The Truth About Senator Susan Collins

Maine Senator Susan Collins was the first Republican senator to issue a statement urging the senate to wait until after November 3 to vote on a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (via Politico). She stopped short of saying a vote should wait until after the inauguration of the new president in January, and has declined to say whether she would actually block a nominee before then. But her willingness to cross party lines to make such a statement has people chattering. So who is Senator Collins and has she always been so independently-minded in her political career?

Senator Collins is the most senior Republican woman on the senate and in her 19 years in office, she has never missed a single vote; that is more than 6,000 votes in a row. She chairs the Senate Select Committee on Aging and the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, and also serves on the Intelligence Committee, as well as the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. And according to her official government biography, Elle magazine named her one of the most powerful women in Washington (via

Susan Collins has a long history of crossing party lines

Though a Republican, Collins has a long history of crossing party lines to support initiatives she believes in. For instance, in partnership with Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, Collins authored a major overhaul of the U.S. intelligence community after the September 11 attacks and also led the effort to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, which at the time discriminated against LGBTQ Americans and prevented them from openly serving in the military (via In 2013, she further demonstrated her unwillingness to bend to party demands by forging the bipartisan coalition that ended a 16-day shutdown of the federal government.

Another issue Collins has always been impassioned about is helping Americans access better healthcare. In 1997, she founded the Senate Diabetes Caucus and has helped to more than triple federal funding for diabetes research. She is also the senate co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's disease, working to increase funding for Alzheimer's research and to strengthen support for family caregivers. She also believes wholeheartedly in public education. Along with visiting hundreds of schools across her home state of Maine to read to children, Collins has spent her career supporting efforts to increase funding to K-12 schools and has helped make higher education more affordable for the average American.

Susan Collins' childhood spurred her interest in politics

Collins is a lifelong Mainer, and was born on December 7, 1952, in Caribou, Maine, into a family involved in both politics and the lumber market, which helped to foster both her passion for government and her career-long commitment to supporting small business (Britannica). She was president of her high-school class, completed the U.S. Senate Youth Program, and graduated magna cum laude from St. Lawrence University with a B.A. in government in 1975. In 2012, Collins married longtime friend, senate senior staff member and consultant Thomas A. Daffron, in a small ceremony her hometown (Bangor Daily News). Her first-ever job in politics was as a legislative assistant to U.S. Rep. William Cohen, who moved to the senate in 1979, and when he stepped down in 1996, Collins ran for his seat and won. She has been serving ever since. 

After President Trump took office, Collins has voted in line with his position 67.5 percent of the time (via FiveThirtyEight). Politico reports that Maine voters have a long history of electing officials who demonstrate a fiercely nonpartisan, independent record. 

We will find out soon if her independent streak continues when it comes to nominating the next candidate for the Supreme Court.