Deal-maker Sen. Susan Collins re-emerged Wednesday, following a report she is floating a potential compromise deal to raise the federal minimum wage, but not to the $10.10 level advocated by President Barack Obama and other top Democrats.
She also sent out a joint press release with Sen. Angus King, the Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, that she supports the public release of a portion of the Senate report on controversial CIA so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques employed after 9/11.
It’s true that Collins has long been a compromise-seeker on many issues throughout her career. But she’s also a savvy politician. And while there’s no reason to think she’s at real risk of being unseated by Shenna Bellows, the Democratic candidate challenging her in 2014, there’s also no doubt both these moves help blunt two of Bellows’ most recent ammo.
We could call it the “Shenna Effect.”
Bellows has said she supports increasing the federal minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $10.10, as advocated for by a number of Democrats hoping to use the issue as a boost headed into the midterm elections.
Collins told reporters on the hill Wednesday she didn’t think the votes were there from Democrats to up the minimum wage as high as the president wanted and wanted to seek a compromise increase “without harming our economy and causing hundreds of thousands of jobs to be lost,” per the Washington Post.
According to Collins’ staff, she’s voted ten times to increase the federal minimum wage during her tenure, the most recent of which was in 2007 which included an increase from $5.85 to $7.25 (which was reached in 2009).
Unsurprisingly, the Bellows camp sees Collins’ latest exploits as an election year ploy, rather than a long-held conviction.
“It’s time we have a leader in Washington who does the right thing not because they are pushed, but because it’s the right thing to do,” Bellows said in an interview. “It’s past time to release the CIA torture report and raise the minimum wage to $10.10 to help the more than 90,000 Mainers who are struggling right now.”
For Collins, support for the CIA report declassification is more curious than her support for modestly increasing the minimum wage. She served for several years at the helm of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sharing leadership duties with then-Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, a Democrat-turned-independent and defense hawk. She more recently joined the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, where she was joined by King. Collins was a supporter of both the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, and a generally a supporter of the Bush administration’s wartime policies.
She’s also expected to be the only Republican on the committee to vote for partial declassification. In her joint statement with King, the senators say, “While we have some concerns about the process for developing the report, its findings lead us to conclude that some detainees were subjected to techniques that constituted torture.”
Bellows thinks the admission is too little, too late.
“It’s unfortunate that she is taking these actions only during an election year when she’s had an opportunity to advance transparency and raise minimum wage before,” she said. “It’s time we have a leader in Washington who does the right thing not because they are pushed or have cover, but because it’s the right thing to do.”