Susan Collins

Collins Speaks On Electoral Count Act, Biden Record & a Supreme Court Nominee

Sen. Collins spoke on topics ranging from the Electoral Count Act to her relationship with the president to her thoughts on Justice Stephen Breyer to the situation in Ukraine

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As of Wednesday, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins has the opportunity to be a swing vote on yet another U.S. Supreme Court nominee and is leading a bipartisan effort in the Senate to reform U.S. election processes.

During remarks to reporters Wednesday afternoon following a tour of an Abbott COVID-19 test production facility in Westbrook, Maine, Collins made her first public comments following the NBC News report that Justice Stephen Breyer would retire, saying "I know Justice Breyer personally and I think very highly of him."

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a Cambridge resident and former Harvard professor, is set to step down.

"He has done an excellent job on the court and I like that he has pushed back against the politicization of the court," she added.

Collins also said she is looking forward to "seeing who President Biden decides to nominate," to fill Breyer’s seat and, that as she has "with all of the nominees that I’ve been privileged to consider and vote on for the court, I will give the president’s nominee very serious consideration and apply the standards of looking at qualifications, experience, integrity, American Bar Association training. Plus I do an extensive interview that I do with all nominees."

Asked about her relationship with the White House a year into the Biden presidency, Collins said that she still has "a decent relationship with the White House."

However, she has not been happy with every decision he has made and thinks he is less of a centrist or "center-left" politician now than when she worked with him in the Senate.

"I have been disappointed at some of his decision-making," she explained adding that she feels, "that in some cases he’s not received good advice from his staff and that they have pulled him further to the left."

That said, Collins said she still looks forward to working with Biden in areas of agreement and pointed out she has attended multiple signings bills she worked on with the President.

One area where Biden and Collins may again cooperate is on her bipartisan effort that now includes dozens of senators who are seeking to reform the 1887 Electoral Count Act.

Wednesday, Collins explained the group is looking to overhaul a law that she calls "woefully out of date," by finding ways to protect poll workers, raising the requirements for members of Congress to challenge state-certified election results and solidifying the role of the vice president as purely ceremonial when electoral votes are certified by Congress, among other changes.

Collins added that the clarification of the responsibilities of the vice president was key to the legislation in order to prevent a situation like President Trump pressuring Vice President Pence to overturn electoral results from leading to change in the outcome of an election.

"Fortunately, Vice President Pence did the right thing and followed the 12th Amendment but the Electoral County Act is ambiguous about the role of the vice president," she said.

During her remarks, Collins also addressed the threat of a Russian invasion into Ukraine by saying she’s happy the United States is sending weapons to Ukraine but that Congress needs to take a "bipartisan" and unified stand on the issue with legislation next week.

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