With all the dysfunction and frustration in Congress over the last few years, I wanted to let Maine residents know about how Sen. Susan Collins achieved rock star status recently in Washington, addressing 300 women representing 200 garden clubs throughout the country who were attending The Garden Club of America’s annual National Affairs and Legislation Conference.

Sen. Collins spoke of the government shutdown last fall, making the point that she thought it was a disgrace. Acadia National Park, as an example, was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, while colleagues were only giving partisan speeches on the floor of the Senate. No one was offering a way forward.

As a result of her efforts and those of a group of bipartisan senators she gathered together, they put together a plan to reopen the government and put Congress on a path to produce a budget.

She challenged her colleagues to “stop fighting and start legislating in a manner appropriate for the American people.” Women led the way. Their plan was presented and became the backbone of the one finally accepted by Congress.

Speaking to this group of conservation-minded people, she commented that Maine’s economy is built on the environment, that conservation programs create jobs in tourism, recreation, fishing and other businesses as well.

Sen. Collins stated that seed money for conservation leverages many times more dollars in return for that investment. In the U.S., more than $1.7 trillion a year in economic activity comes from conservation.

When others in Washington are heading for the exits, our senator continues to try to bring people together to legislate responsibly and to give the citizens of this country the government they deserve. She received a standing ovation from these 300 women.

Karen Arsenault

York