Monday, March 10, 2014
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A sign at the south entrance to Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz., indicates the park is closed on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. More than 400 national parks are closed as Congress remains deadlocked over federal government funding.
From left Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chair of the Senate Budget Committee, tell reporters that Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Republicans are the obstacle to ending the government shutdown crisis, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. President Barack Obama brought congressional leaders to the White House on Wednesday for the first time since a partial government shutdown began, but there was no sign of progress toward ending an impasse that has idled 800,000 federal workers and curbed services around the country.
She was criticized by some conservative and tea party groups in Maine and nationally for voting to end debate in the Senate on the two-part bill, effectively opening the procedural door for Democrats. But she has consistently voted since then with other Republicans to defund, delay or alter Obamacare, leading to accusations that she is helping to prolong the shutdown and appeasing the tea party.
Collins was not available for comment Thursday. But in an interview Wednesday for WCSH-TV’s evening news program, she said her votes reflect her continued opposition to a health care law that she believes will drive up costs for consumers and hurt small businesses.
“So, to be consistent, I am going to continue to support changes in the law, attempts to repeal it or to change it in ways that I think will be helpful to the people of Maine,” Collins said. “Nevertheless, I disagree with the strategy that the House has adopted – encouraged by some of our Republican senators – linking the funding of government to repeal or defunding of Obamacare.”
That explanation fell short for Grant, the Democratic chairman. In his statement, he said Maine voters will have a chance next year to choose someone “who has consistent values and who actually stands up to the GOP with their votes, not just with their rhetoric.”
The allusion to the 2014 election may signal a shift for Maine Democrats. While the party occasionally criticizes Collins publicly, the party has not typically referred to her upcoming election.
That may be because no Democrats have stepped up to challenge a popular incumbent with more than $2 million in her campaign war chest.
But some Democrats appear to be energized by rumors that Shenna Bellows, who stepped down recently as head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, is considering a run against Collins.
Late Thursday, Maine Republicans responded to Democrats’ criticism of Collins with a statement that suggests Mainers should expect to keep hearing about the shutdown and Obamacare during next year’s campaigns.
“If the Maine Democratic Party thinks running on Obamacare in 2014 is a good strategy, that explains why they haven’t won a U.S. Senate race in 25 years,” said Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine Republican Party.
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Demonstrators hold signs while protesting outside the Lafayatte, Ind. office of U.S. Representative Todd Rokita, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. They were protesting the government shutdown and Rokita’s stance on it.
AP Photo/The Journal & Courier