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Essentially, Susan Collins runs the country, or at least she exercises a veto over anything Republicans might like to do

So-called Republicans Susan Collins, Richard Burr kill Trump rescission package, stick taxpayers with $16 billion tab


By —— Bio and Archives--June 21, 2018

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So-called Republicans Collins, Burr kill Trump rescission package, stick taxpayers with $16 billion
We thought this might happen.

It’s very hard to pass a responsible spending bill in the U.S. Senate because Democrats can filibuster, and because there are only 51 Republicans. But if you can hold the Republican caucus together, you can rescind some of the spending that’s already passed under the Budget Impoundment Act of 1974, and you only need a simple majority to do it.

President Trump brought $16 billion in spending rescissions to Congress last week, and he got it through the House. We thought the Senate would be a problem, although we didn’t think the problem would take the exact form it did. Susan Collins tends to oppose conservative initiatives and she didn’t disappoint. But North Carolina’s Richard Burr? What would prompt him to vote no? Turns out it was pure, parochial home-state politics, and because of a single item that costs a few million dollars, the entire $16 billion is now going to be pissed away:

Mr. Burr revolted over a line item about the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a rescission he wanted stripped from the package, and so he blocked even a debate. Mr. Burr could have moved to strike the item on the floor and he might have succeeded. The conservation program is largely a slush fund for government land grabs, but it’s politically untouchable because it reminds people of Old Faithful and camping trips.

Mr. Burr thus tanked a $15 billion package over a $16 million rescission, and only after putting his GOP colleagues on the record for a tough vote. The House narrowly passed the rescissions package, and many vulnerable Republican members now will be attacked by Democrats as having voted to slash spending without having accomplished any fiscal discipline that excites the right.

With John McCain absent from the Senate, perhaps permanently, Republicans can’t pass anything even on a simple majority unless they hold the entire caucus together and get Vice President Pence’s tiebreaker. No Democrat is ever going to vote for a bill that cuts spending – especially spending they’ve already voted to allocate – so any Republican who wants to hold out for a pet project has the power to prevent fiscal discipline from every happening in Washington.

Maybe Mr. Burr would have voted yes if his had been the deciding vote, but Collins gave him cover to vote no and tell the home-state voters he was protecting these federal land grabs, for whatever reason they might want them to continue.

Now let’s talk about John McCain for a second. Knowing him, there’s no reason to be confident he would have voted yes had he been in Washington. But if he’s never coming back to the Senate, he’s essentially leaving his state with half-representation in the Senate, and he’s leaving the Republican caucus without any ability to pass a bill unless Susan Collins approves it. I’m very sorry that he’s dying and I wish it were not so, but if that’s the reason he’s going to stay away, then he ought to resign and let the governor of Arizona appoint a new Republican senator who will actually go to Washington and vote for bills like this.

When the Senate was voting on ObamaCare, it was important enough to McCain to fly there and cast the deciding vote against repeal, gaining him plenty of attaboys from the Beltway crowd and glowing media coverage. If he cared about spending discipline, he would either show up for these votes or, if he’s too sick to do that, step aside so someone else can. But I don’t think he cares about it, and I’m sure he doesn’t want to give Donald Trump any sort of legislative victory because he loathes the man. If that means the taxpayers get stuck with a $16 billion bill, so be it as far as McCain is concerned.

As for Susan Collins, she is a nominal Republican representing a very liberal state. She shows zero enthusiasm for any conservative policy initiative, although you can sometimes get her vote on a key confirmation matter or other ideas if they’re watered down enough to satisfy her. I think she realizes she can only get away with so much before her state will refuse to keep electing her. But I also think she’s wielding her power very shrewdly given the makeup of the Senate. She knows Mitch McConnell cannot cobble together a majority without her. If she always said no, she would have no leverage. But she makes it as difficult as possible for the GOP to get her vote, and she always extracts a price. Without Collins, no Republican bill can ever pass.

Essentially, Susan Collins runs the country, or at least she exercises a veto over anything Republicans might like to do.

By the way, if dopey Alabama voters hadn’t backed Roy Moore over Luther Strange in last year’s primary, none of this would be true. Nice job, Alabama.


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Dan Calabrese -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by HermanCain.com, which can be found at HermanCain

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