Pulse Bulletin: Senator Susan Collins Seeks Changes to Insurgency Commission Amid Growing GOP Opposition
Republican U.S. Senator Susan Collins has previously expressed interest in an independent commission to investigate the Jan.6 insurgency attempt by extremist supporters of former President Donald Trump.
However, it is still unclear whether Collins will vote for the bill that would create such a commission modeled after the one that examined the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Commission to Investigate the Jan.6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Complex Act on Wednesday, but not before Republican leaders in the House and Senate announced that they would oppose the bill. The announcement by Senatorial Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, and Representative Kevin McCarthy, of California, has been touted by some as another sign that Republicans are keen to disturb the insurgency even as Trump continues to push back. vigorously assert the stolen electoral lie that inspired him.
This sentiment is fueled by the fact that McConnell, who blamed Trump for the insurgency but voted against his impeachment conviction, had previously expressed support for the commission, while also declaring the House bill to enact it. create a “biased and unbalanced”. McCarthy executed a similar pivot, first by hand-selecting Rep. John Katko, RN.Y. negotiate with the Democrats and draft the commission bill, then quickly walk away from it – and Katko.
Republicans have consistently supported the commission’s bill, but McConnell’s opposition appears to signal problems for its passage in a Senate controlled by Democrats by the narrowest of margins.
Now the spotlight is on Collins, who not only blamed Trump for the Capitol riot but also voted to convict him on the associated impeachment charges. So far, Collins isn’t a definitive yes or no to the bill from the committee that cleared the House. In a written statement, she said she supported a commission “to examine the events leading up to the attack, find out exactly what happened and learn lessons for the future”, but also that changes had to be brought.
For now, these changes appear to focus on who chooses the staff who will carry out the commission’s heavy lifting of inquiry. According to the House bill, the staff would be chosen by the President, who would be chosen by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, and “in consultation” with the Vice President, who would be chosen. by McConnell and McCarthy.
It’s unclear exactly how Collins would change this process, but in an impromptu interview with NBC News on Capitol Hill, she said she wanted the commission to complete its work by the end of the year to “avoid the partisanship that is inevitably associated with an election. year.”
She said she was considering an amendment with proposed changes.
Collins also said the commission may want to explore “violent extremists on both sides,“a remark that quickly drew ridicule among liberal Twitter users.
Still, Collins’ support for the commission, if it were to be translated into an affirmative vote, may not improve his chances of passing. That’s because 10 Republicans should join the Democrats to avoid a GOP filibuster in the Senate. So far, it doesn’t look like those GOP votes are there.
As for Collins, she is already on thin ice with the president’s supporters at home after voting to condemn Trump for the insurgency. Although Trump’s supporters in the Republican Party of Maine failed to censor her for this vote, they still wield a lot of influence within the party – just as the former president does.
Additionally, some Congressional Republicans have been more outspoken that an insurgency commission would not be helpful in their quest to regain control of Congress in 2022.
“Anything that gets us to rehash the 2020 election, I think, is a day wasted in order to be able to contrast us with the very radical left-wing agenda of the Democrats,” said Republican U.S. Senator John Thune of Dakota. South, at the Washington Post.
Echo chamber failure
For weeks, Republican agents have tried to embroil U.S. Democratic Congressman Jared Golden in a dispute involving Maine fishermen and efforts to develop offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine.
Republicans have already roughed up Governor Janet Mills for her support for the project, an effort they hope to tap into when she is re-elected next year. Golden is also running for re-election, and on Thursday Republican groups deployed criticism from the Echo Chamber against a statement he made last year in support of the Aqua Ventus project that is at the center of the dispute.
The Congressional Leadership Fund called Golden’s support “awakening environmentalism.”
The Republican National Congressional Committee said Golden “bowed” to environmentalists who have long supported him.
Both hits related to a position in the Maine Examiner. The reviewer is led by Jason Savage, the executive director of the Republican Party of Maine – although a reader should delve into the “about us” section of the site to find out because posts posing as news stories don’t have no signature.
“Golden is not shy about showing its support for offshore wind, despite the concerns of the fisheries that will be affected,” the reviewer wrote, before attributing the following quote to Golden: “We are proud to see it. project progress and applaud the $ 100 million public-private partnership.
There’s just one problem: Golden isn’t the only one who made this statement. It was a joint statement by the entire Maine congressional delegation in August of last year.
“We are proud to see the progress of the project and welcome the $ 100 million public-private partnership launched (Wednesday), which will accelerate UMaine’s development of its innovative technology and create jobs,” said Les Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, as well as representatives. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden said in the statement. “Maine’s offshore wind resource potential is 36 times greater than the state’s electricity demand, which makes this project so important to Maine’s clean energy future.”
Understandably, the Examiner makes no mention of Collins’ support for Aqua Ventus, which she has expressed at least twice, including during her re-election campaign last year.
The FBI investigation into a Hawaiian defense contractor donations to Collins’ re-election campaign and a super PAC that supported it does not appear to target the senator or his campaign committee.
However, evidence obtained by the FBI, and made public in its recently unsealed search warrant, suggests that the super PAC supporting his re-election bid may need to answer some questions about its knowledge of a program. of donors allegedly orchestrated by defense contractor Martin Kao and his associates.
The FBI alleges that Kao and his business partner violated two laws, one which prohibits donors of political campaigns from contributing on behalf of someone else – also known as the straw donor – and another which banned federal contractors from giving political committees anything.
Kao’s company was deemed a federal contractor after Collins helped Navatek, since renamed Martin Defense Group, secure an $ 8 million defense contract in 2019.
In addition to repaying friends and family about $ 45,000 in direct donations to Collins’ campaign through a straw donation program, Kao also allegedly diverted $ 150,000 of corporate funds to the PAC 1820, a violation of the federal ban on contractors. The 1820 PAC spent $ 12 million to support Collins’ re-election last year.
Kao’s legal danger is whether the leaders of PAC 1820 knew he had created a bogus limited liability company to hide the $ 150,000 donation and circumvent the contractor’s ban. The FBI search warrant suggests that Kao wanted credit for his super PAC donation and he emailed PAC associates to let them know he created the bogus company.
“I just received confirmation from our bank that the new Society of Young Women Scientists and Engineers account will be open and ready to go early next week,” Kao wrote to 1820 PAC organizers in December 2019.
According to Brendan Fischer, with the Campaign Legal Center, a campaign finance watchdog, PACs are not allowed to accept contributions when they know they are being made on behalf of another.
It’s unclear whether the FBI is interested in PAC 1820’s knowledge of the donation, or just Kao, who already has a lot of legal issues. Last year he was arrested for defrauding a pandemic program that provided forgivable loans to small businesses. The search warrant enabled the FBI to obtain Kao’s smartphone and a hard drive that could contain communications between Kao and political committees.
The legislature returns to the State House
Pandemic restrictions have closed the State House to the general public for more than a year, but that is about to change.
Legislative leaders voted Thursday to resume public access to State House from Monday, the same day that lawmakers themselves will be allowed to assemble and work in the building following the loosening of restrictions in pandemic matter by Democratic Governor Janet Mills. Throughout the session, the Legislature held virtual committee meetings and public hearings, while occasionally meeting in person at the Augusta Civic Center for House and Senate sessions.
These sessions are expected to resume at the State House on June 2. Committee hearings will continue to take place virtually, but committees do not have much work to do.
The legislature itself, however, has a host of important bills to pass before the end of the special session which is currently scheduled until June 16, but which could be extended.
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