After last week’s highly-contentious cabinet votes, Mitch McConnell is aiming to ram through as many additional nominees as possible this week, before the Senate adjourns for their “state work period” the week of 2/20. It looks like McConnell’s plan is to vote Mnuchin (Treasury) in Monday, then Shulkin (Veteran’s Affairs), and McMahon (Small Business Administration). They also want to vote on several others by the end of the week, though the order is unclear: Mulvaney (Office of Management and Budget), Ross (Commerce), Carson (HUD), Zinke (Interior), and Pruitt (EPA). Of those, Collins is likely only gettable on Pruitt, but given that the Dems promised weeks ago full resistance on Mnuchin, Mulvaney and Pruitt, and have been getting pressured by their base to resist every nominee, it seems likely that the Pruitt vote won’t make Mitch’s end of week deadline.
Which brings us to next week’s state work period. That week off from the legislative calendar is supposed to allow Senators to spend time in their home states to listen to constituents. The problem is, as a matter of policy, Susan Collins doesn’t do town halls, only meeting with small constituent groups who have submitted a formal request and have been vetted by her staff.
It’s clear from the Senator’s statements that she has become woefully out of touch with her constituents, from implying that most opponents of ACA repeal were “paid activists,” to assuming that anti-Trump protestors were mainly unwilling to accept the election results vs. having a legitimate reason to protest his policies, to giving convoluted explanations to the media for her voting DeVos out of committee and voting to silence Elizabeth Warren. She seems to expect her constituents to keep quiet between elections and just trust her do the right thing, without paying attention too closely. Although that’s indeed what the vast majority of Mainers have done for the 20 years she’s been in the Senate, things are different now. Mainers, like the rest of the country, are becoming more politically aware and engaged than ever before. It’s time Sen. Collins heard directly from us.
So for this week’s action item we’re going to call on Collins to hold a public town hall next week. You’ll be told that the Senator doesn’t do town halls, and prefers to meet with small groups of constituents, but please emphasize that all Mainers need to have a chance to speak directly to their Senator, not just those few who are granted an appointment.
For extra credit, you can participate in “open air” town halls being organized by the great folks at Mainers for Accountable Leadership. The events will be held simultaneously near Maine Public Radio studios in Portland, Lewiston, and Bangor on February 22nd, when Collins is scheduled to be interviewed on the 1pm Maine Calling show. RSVP here! If you’re at the Portland event, I’ll be holding a small sign with a Calling on Collins logo on the back. Please say hello!
And for extra extra credit, sign the petition here for Collins to hold a town hall. Every bit helps!
Thanks for all you do,