AUGUSTA, Maine — Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, plans to meet Tuesday morning with independent Sen.-elect Angus King to discuss committee assignments and how they will collaborate to represent Maine in the U.S. Senate, according to Kevin Kelley, a spokesman for Collins.
King won a six-person contest Tuesday to replace Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, who announced in February that she would not seek re-election to a fourth term in the Senate.
Collins, who becomes Maine’s senior senator with Snowe’s retirement, wrote in an email Sunday that she has spoken to King by phone twice since his election and plans to meet with him in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning. Both King and Collins flew to the nation’s capital on Sunday.
“I am doing all that I can to help Sen.-elect King learn the ways of Washington and be an effective senator for Maine,” Collins said. “One of the issues we will continue to discuss is committee assignments and how we can work together to address the critical needs of Maine and our nation. While it’s too early to know what our final committee assignments will be, I expect that I will continue to serve as a senior member on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.”
Collins currently serves as the lead Republican on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. She has served in that role for six years. Kelley confirmed Sunday that Republican rules preclude Collins from remaining as the ranking member of that committee.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., who chairs the committee, did not seek re-election, leaving the HSGA committee without its two long-time leaders. Collins urged the committee to move ahead with ongoing investigations, including a probe of the circumstances that led to the death of four Americans, including U.S Ambassador Christopher Stevens, in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 of this year.
“While Republican caucus rules will prevent me from continuing to serve as the top Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I remain committed to effective oversight and using the expertise I have acquired to work with my colleagues to strengthen our homeland security against terrorist attacks and natural disasters,” Collins said Sunday. “Among my priorities for concluding the work of this committee this year are our investigation into the attacks in Benghazi, cybersecurity legislation, and completion of our postal reform legislation which has already passed the Senate but has yet to be acted on by the House.”
On the Appropriations Committee, Collins is the top Republican on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development subcommittee. In that role, she pushed for federal legislation that allows trucks carrying heavier loads to travel on federal highways in Maine.
“My preference is to continue to be the top Republican on the Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee where I have the ability to help shape our nation’s transportation priorities, while working to help ensure that Maine’s needs are addressed,” she said.
Collins also hopes to continue serving on the Armed Services Committee and the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. “This is a key subcommittee which not only provides vital resources to our troops and our nation, but also helps boost Maine’s economy by recognizing the enormous contributions to our country made by employers in our state like Bath Iron Works, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Pratt and Whitney, Saco Defense, Smith and Wesson, the DFAS center in Limestone, along with many other smaller defense contractors,” she said.
Finally, Collins will seek to continue service on the Special Committee on Aging. Citing the fact that Maine has the oldest median age in the nation, Collins seeks to advocate for the needs of that population as the top Republican on the committee.
Snowe serves on the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and the Finance Committee.
Snowe also has offered to meet with King in Washington this week.
When asked to offer advice to her successor prior to Election Day, Snowe said it would be important for Maine’s new senator to and “balance and complement the committee assignments of Sen. Collins.”
Since Collins took office in 1997, she and Snowe — as members of the Republican Senate caucus — worked together to coordinate committee assignments. King has not publically stated with which party he intends to caucus, although most Washington observers have assumed he would align with the Democrats, who added to their Senate majority in Tuesday’s elections.
King endorsed President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and said during the campaign that he would vote against repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans targeted in the current Congress and during the just-concluded campaign season.
King was traveling Sunday and unavailable for comment. Crystal Canney, communications director for his campaign, confirmed that he does plan to discuss committee assignments with Collins while in Washington to meet and greet his future colleagues in the Senate and other federal government officials.