The Republican senator from Maine complains about 'a huge mistake,' but doesn't say who made it.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) criticized Donald Trump's decision to kill negotiations on a COVID-19 relief bill Tuesday, but did not mention Trump by name.
"Waiting until after the election to reach an agreement on the next Covid-19 relief package is a huge mistake," Collins said in a statement. "I have already been in touch with the Secretary of the Treasury, one of the chief negotiators, and with several of my Senate colleagues." She then bragged about her role in passing previous pandemic relief legislation, but made no direct criticism of Trump.
Collins' statement came after Trump, who had tweeted on Saturday, "OUR GREAT USA WANTS & NEEDS STIMULUS. WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE," announced Tuesday afternoon that he was cancelling all relief negotiations and that the economy is "doing very well" without it.
"I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business," Trump wrote, urging that the Senate "instead focus full time on approving my outstanding nominee to the United States Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett."
Hours after that announcement and an ensuing 500-point stock market drop, Trump seemed to contradict himself in a tweet on Tuesday night: "The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!"
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, a Trump appointee, warned that recovery from the economic effects of the pandemic required more government spending. "Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses," he said at a conference on Tuesday.
Collins has frequently expressed mild disagreement, concern, and dismay with Donald Trump. After voting to acquit him during his impeachment trial in February, she predicted that he had learned a "pretty big lesson" and "would be more cautious in the future." She later walked back that assessment, conceding it had been "more aspirational on my part."
Though she has voted with Trump more than two-thirds of the time, including backing his tax bill to benefit the wealthy and both of his previous Supreme Court nominees, Collins has refused to say whether she will vote for Trump in November. "I have a difficult race. And I am concentrating my efforts on that race," she told CNN in July.
She is indeed in a difficult reelection race.
Collins is facing Democratic state House Speaker Sara Gideon in the general election in November. Gideon has been ahead in every major poll since the start of July. According to RealClearPolitics' polling average, Collins trails Gideon by 3.7 points.
Gideon blasted Collins and Trump on Tuesday for failing to get a relief bill done: "Maine people, businesses, and communities need more relief from the federal government to make it through the coronavirus pandemic, but Washington is letting them down once again. Senator Collins often talks about the importance of her seniority, but it's been months since the last round of federal relief was passed and once again, she's failed to stand up to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell when Mainers need her most.
"The federal government needs to establish a robust testing and contact tracing program, support people who are out of work, and deliver the relief state and local governments need — and Mainers deserve a senator who will fight for them," Gideon said.
A spokesperson for Collins did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.