Tags: ME | Tax Overhaul | Collins

Sen. Collins May Change Vote If GOP Reneges on Her Changes

Friday, 08 December 2017 05:42 PM

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Sen. Susan Collins may change her vote on the GOP tax overhaul if her amendments are not included in the final version that emerges from conference committee, the Republican said.

Collins' comments on Thursday, the same day nine religious leaders protesting the tax plan were arrested at her office in Portland, put pressure on a conference committee to keep her amendments from a tax proposal that narrowly passed 51-49 in the Senate.

"I'm going to look at what comes out of the conference committee meeting to reconcile the differences between the Senate and House Bill. So I won't make a final decision until I see what that package is," she told WABI-TV from Washington, D.C.

Collins was viewed as a hero by many in her home state for sinking a GOP effort to kill the Affordable Care Act, but now she's being attacked for her support of the tax plan that would provide steep tax cuts for businesses and more modest tax breaks for families and individuals.

The nine religious leaders opposed to the tax plan gathered at her office and prayed and sang as they streamed the demonstration live on social media. Police arrested them for trespass when they refused to leave when the office closed for the day.

The Rev. Allen Ewing-Merrill, a United Methodist minister, called the arrests a "pretty minor inconvenience when compared to how this bill is going to devastate peoples' lives."

At one point, Collins spoke with the group via phone.

Earlier in the week, five protesters were arrested at her Bangor office.

Collins voted for the sweeping tax overhaul after her amendments on property tax and medical expense deductions were included. She also says she secured a promise from House and Senate leaders to remove the threat of a 4 percent cut to Medicare.

"I am absolutely certain that 4 percent cut in Medicare ... will not occur," Collins told WABI-TV. She said she has it "in writing" from House and Senate leaders.

House Speaker Paul Ryan created some confusion this week when he spoke about the need to cut Medicare in the coming year, prompting some to believe he's not on the same page with Collins, but that's a different issue than the trigger in the tax overhaul.

Collins remains optimistic that her proposals will be included in the final bill, said Annie Clark, her spokeswoman. Per her standard practice, however, the senator will wait to review the conference committee proposal before making a decision on her vote.

Maine Republicans have applauded the efforts of Collins and Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who voted for the House version of the tax overhaul.

Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage accused Democrats of putting up roadblocks without offering any proposals of their own.

"Maine Republicans appreciate the challenge of the task at hand and are working their tails off to get this done right and allow working Mainers to have bigger paychecks, while Democrats seem content to let government keep more of your money," he said.

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Friday, 08 December 2017 05:42 PM
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