Senator Susan Collins (R-MN) turned heads when she voted to pass her party’s controversial tax plan last week. The Maine Republican has been a rare voice of reason and independence in the Senate, often in open defiance of Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump.
Her recalcitrance helped save Obamacare from an earlier assault on the popular healthcare program. When her Senate GOP colleagues decided to add a provision that would eliminate the individual mandate that’s so critical to Obamacare to the tax reform bill, many expected her to vote against it.
Yet there she was last Friday, voting yes to help pass what’s been called the greatest transfer of wealth from the masses to the wealthiest 1% of Americans in history – and potentially and killing Obamacare in the process.
Now it appears she’s having second thoughts. In an interview with local Maine TV station WABI Channel 5, she expressed her concerns about her own party reneging on assurances made to her that her amendments protecting medical and property tax deductions would be included in the final bill.
Asked if she would change her vote if those provisions were not included, she said plainly, “I would.”
“I’m going to look at what comes out of the conference committee meeting to reconcile the differences between the Senate and House Bill. So I won’t make a final decision until I see what that package is,” she told Maine TV5.
“There’s a real fear that the tax bill is going to trigger a 4% cut in Medicare. I am absolutely certain that 4% cut in Medicare that I mentioned will not occur. I have it in writing from both the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and also Senator Mitch McConnell.”
Vice President Mike Pence cast the dramatic tie-breaking vote in the middle of night Friday, something President Trump celebrated immediately on Twitter. But because the bill differed significantly from the version passed in the House of Representatives, it still must be finalized by a reconciliation committee before the president can sign it into law.
If the reconciliation committee makes any substantive changes to either version of the bill, it must be voted on again by both houses of congress. If that happens, then Senator Collins will have a chance to redeem herself, something many suspect she’s been looking for.
You can watch Senator Collins’ statement below.