Collins’ support for bill depends on spending cuts

Posted Feb. 08, 2009, at 9:44 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Sen. Susan Collins said she will withdraw her support for the $827 billion economic stimulus bill if House leaders add back “bloated” spending provisions.

Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., led an effort to cut $100 billion from the package. They drew up a list of $77 billion in spending cuts and $30 billion in savings by scaling back tax breaks. The Senate vote is expected on Tuesday.

Collins said she told President Obama that her support is predicated on the cuts remaining in place.

“He said he understood and would continue to work with me,” the Maine Republican said Saturday, describing her phone conversation with the president.

Maine would benefit from several provisions, including $4.2 billion for upgrading power grid capacity, $7 billion for rural broadband funding and hundreds of millions of dollars for rebuilding infrastructure, such as roads and sewer systems, she said.

Collins, who was elected to a third term in November, said she’s fulfilling a campaign pledge to work in a bipartisan manner in Washington.

“A lot of people back in Maine have been contacting me to say they are delighted that I played a key role in bringing people together,” she said. “And they didn’t want to see partisan gridlock, which is what we were heading towards.”

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