Susan Collins sure does hope that someday she can help her state in this crisis
Sen. Susan Collins, the Republican from Maine who is in the top 10 of seniority in her party, says she’s really "hopeful" that maybe the coronavirus relief package Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to negotiate among his squabbling conference will have critical assistance for state and local governments. It doesn't right now, which tells you just about how much sway Susan Collins has in her party.
Back in May, Collins actually sponsored a bill to spend $500 billion in direct aid to state and local governments. Clearly that had a big impact on McConnell. There's none in the package he floated this week, just money for reopening schools. Just to put a fine point on this, that’s $70 billion to K-12 schools—half of which has to go to schools that have reopened—and another $30 billion to colleges and universities, which is not tied to reopening. There is no money at all for the state, local, tribal, and territorial governments that have seen revenues plummet in the past five months. Layoffs of public service workers have been happening all over the country. There will be more.
Collins said she talked McConnell about it, and that the Republican caucus is “really split” on the issue because not all of the previous spending for states has been spent—in part because there's little flexibility in where it can be spent. The states still have the need for funds that they can use to replace revenue, but that doesn't matter to a core group of Republicans. The ones who are winning with McConnell. Collins says that “doesn’t decrease the need for those who are at the municipal level.” That argument clearly didn't have a lot of sway with her boss.
“I think a component of local aid is very important,” Collins said to reporters in Maine. “I’m hopeful that that will be included in the package.” Collins' hopes and $1.25 will get you, well, very little. Maine has a projected $525 million budget shortfall in the next year. So a helluva lot of good her concerns and hopes are doing her home state.