Maine Sen. Susan Collins Sunday morning said she thinks there can be bipartisan cooperation on both infrastructure and on the formation of a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 incidents at the Capitol.
The Maine Republican has been in meetings with President Joe Biden to discuss his infrastructure package, but she told ABC "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos that she thinks negotiations should continue after the White House lowered its initial proposal to $1.7 trillion this week and said the ball is now in the Republicans' court.
"I think negotiations should continue, but it's important to note that there are some fundamental differences here, and at the heart of the negotiations is defining the scope of the bill," Collins said. "What is infrastructure? We Republicans tend to define infrastructure in terms of roads, bridges, seaports and airports, and broadband. The Democratic definition seems to include social programs that have never been considered part of core infrastructure."
She added that she's glad Biden put a counter-offer on the table, but at the same time, what he plans to do is move much of the spending to a bill already on the Senate floor, the Endless Frontiers Bill.
"So I think we're still pretty far apart, but this is the test," Collins said. "This will determine whether or not we can work together in a bipartisan way on an important issue, and the other important area where we're far apart is still the money."
The president's first package of the year, the $1.9 trillion package for COVID relief, went past the scope of the pandemic, she said, and with "this very broadly described infrastructure package, we're talking about an enormous sum of money. Remember we spent $4.1 trillion, inflation-adjusted dollars to win World War II. That's the size of the president's infrastructure and social services package."
Meanwhile, Collins said she's opposed to voting for the Jan. 6 commission as passed last week by the House, but she does "strongly support the creation of an independent commission."
"I believe there are many unanswered questions about the attacks on the Capitol on Jan. 6," she said. "We need to figure out how we can enhance security, why we weren't better prepared, and we want the Capitol to be an open, accessible symbol of our democracy."
Collins added that she sees no reason the report can't be finished by the end of this year.
"There's plenty of time to complete the work," she said, adding that she's "optimistic" that the issues can be resolved based on conversations she's had with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
Meanwhile, Collins spoke out about a report that the FBI is investigating an alleged scheme to funnel illegal donations into her 2020 re-election campaign, involving $150,000 in contributions from a defense contractor.
She said she was "not aware at all" about the contributions, and insisted that the investigation is not about her, but is a probe into her campaign.
"It's an investigation of a single donor among the hundred thousand donors that I have, and if he's done something wrong as the warrant alleges, then he should be pursued by the FBI," said Collins.
"I would also clarify that some of that money went to an outside super PAC, not to my campaign, but my campaign website actually has information on it instructing people that they can only make donations with their own money. They cannot funnel it through someone else. They cannot be straw donors and they have to check that box, and they have to contribute. That is not an investigation of my campaign or of me, just of one of my many donors."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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