Wednesday April 06, 2011 | 04:21 PM

Sen. Susan Collins has written a letter to the top Senate Democrat and Republican calling on them to craft a “good faith” spending bill compromise that averts a federal shutdown this weekend.

The Maine Republican, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, didn’t set out any specific funding figures in her letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Collins has, however, said separately in an interview that she is opposed to the policy “riders” on issues such as blocking climate change rules by the Environmental Protection Agency or eliminating federal funding to Planned Parenthood, that were included in the House GOP spending bill that cut $61 billion for the remaining months of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. She doesn’t disagree with every policy prescription adopted by House Republicans, but doesn’t think policy debates should be included in the final spending bill, Collins said.
In that vein, she said in her letter to Reid and McConnell that, “It is past time that we set partisan politics aside and work in good faith to reach a compromise that will avoid a government shutdown and allow Congress and the administration to finally shift its attention to the serious debate that must take place on the long-term budget challenges facing our country.”
Collins said she is disappointed that Congress has resorted to passing temporary funding measures, the latest of which is due to expire Friday.
“It is particularly troubling that with troops currently engaged in three wars, Congress has not, at a minimum, managed to pass a funding bill for the Department of Defense for the remainder of the fiscal year,” Collins said. “Now we are faced with the prospect that if compromise on a funding bill is not reached by this Friday, troops in the field will be told to continue to carry out their missions serving their country, but their pay would delayed could create considerable hardship for them and their families back home.  This to me is an unconscionable outcome.”

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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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