Tuesday March 29, 2011 | 02:19 PM

A government shutdown because Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on a final 2011 spending bill would be a “colossal failure by Congress and the administration, says Sen. Susan Collins.

The Maine Republican said today in an interview on Capitol Hill that she doesn’t favor more temporary spending measures like the two approved by lawmakers over the past five weeks that cut a total of $10 billion.
“That’s a terrible way to run the government,” Collins said of the temporary spending bills. It is causing big problems, for instance, for Department of Defense projects, she said.
House Republicans approved a bill that cut $61 billion over the remaining months of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, but that bill went nowhere in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Collins has said she doesn’t approve of all the House cuts. She voted for a procedural motion allowing the House GOP bill to come to a final Senate floor vote, saying she felt Senate Democrats hadn’t offered up enough spending cuts in their version of the bill. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, voted the same way and expressed the same rationale.
That procedural motion failed, as did a motion to advance the Senate Democrats’ bill.
Now, the latest temporary funding bill expires April 8. A growing number of lawmakers are saying they don’t want to vote for more temporary bills, even as congressional leaders and the White House struggle for a compromise on a final bill.
Collins said she wouldn’t rule out voting for some kind of temporary measure if it is needed, but said the focus of lawmakers should be to hammer out a final 2011 spending bill and then move on to the spending bills for 2012 – with the goal of avoiding this mess next year.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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