Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Maine Senators Break With Republican Party on Stimulus

Senator Susan Collins of Maine was one of three Republican senators who voted for the economic stimulus bill. "People don't want us to be the party that just says no," Ms. Collins said.

Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Republican of Maine.

Arlen Specter, who also broke rank to back the measure.

Senators Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe are not close friends, but they have plenty in common. They both represent Maine. They share a centrist ideology. They are proper and genteel. And they can drive their Republican colleagues to distraction.

I believe only Maine and California have two female Senators.

On one of the biggest bills ever to confront lawmakers, the two senators, surviving members of the vanishing breed of New England Republicans, are wielding outsize power. Along with Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the third Republican who broke from the pack and provided a crucial vote for initial passage on Tuesday, the two Mainers find themselves holding virtual veto control over the legislation as it enters crucial negotiations between the House and Senate.

Specter I do not like. All politicians are opportunists, by nature, but he is really opportunist. And he can be nasty.

“I like them both, but I wouldn’t want them to buy me a car,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who noted the compromise engineered by Ms. Collins had produced an $838 billion Senate version of the $819 billion House bill.

Graham is a weasel.

It also reflects the political reality that the nature of a Republican from Maine, a state where President Obama received almost 58 percent of the vote, is much different from that of the conservative Southern and Western lawmakers who constitute much of the rest of the Senate Republican side.

As Maine goes ...

“I think it is safe to say that Republicans in the Northeast are not exactly the same as Republicans in the Deep South,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader.

McConnell makes Graham seem likable.

Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has worked closely with Ms. Collins over the years, did not mention any names, but he was clearly dismayed at the talks and what they produced.

And McCain makes McConnell ... no, never mind. He's right there.

“This is not a bipartisan agreement,” Mr. McCain said Monday on the Senate floor. “This is three members of the Senate — none on the House side — who have joined Democrats for a partisan agreement. It is unfortunate because we are now committing an act of generational theft.”

Generational theft? What did Ronald Reagan do? And what did the 2000-2008 Republicans do? Gimme a break.

Senators Susan Collins, Harry Reid, Arlen Specter, Olympia J. Snowe and Joseph I. Lieberman left a meeting on Wednesday after an agreement was reached on the economic stimulus bill.

That was in the morning. In the afternoon

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