WASHINGTON — Maine Sen. Susan Collins was the sole Republican to vote in favor of the transportation bill on Thursday, despite having five other Republicans voting for it in committee.
As the ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Collins and her staff spent weeks crafting the bill.
Addressing the chamber after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told members to “sit down and shut up” so she could speak, a visibly frustrated Collins pointed out that none of her Republican colleagues had offered program-by-program cuts to shrink the bill.
Absent an agreement by the end of September, Congress will be forced to pass a resolution keeping government agencies operating under the current budget – something Collins called “irresponsible.”
The bill put Collins in conflict with her caucus’s own leader, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had worked all week to round up the votes to stall the bill.
Underscoring the tensions, both stood at the front of the Senate chamber and watched as Republicans walked up and voted against the measure. Although occasionally laughing and smiling with senators as they voted, Collins left the floor of the Senate before all of the votes were tallied.
She later told a reporter from Politico that McConnell “has never worked harder against a member of his own party than he did against me today.”