PORTLAND, Maine — A group of 10 protesters pulled off their winter coats, took out playing cards and settled in to play cribbage on the floor of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ Portland office Friday afternoon.
The mostly Peaks Island residents said that they were there to urge Collins to vote against the Republican party’s bill to overhaul the federal tax code. They said they chose the game to signal that Maine’s senior senator “got played” by her party’s leadership.
“Cribbage was the most Maine game we could think of,” said Christina Foster, 42, of Peaks Island.
This is the latest group of protesters to occupy Collins’ offices in an attempt turn her crucial vote against the tax bill that Republicans in Washington, D.C. hope to pass before Christmas.
Before casting her vote to help the Senate narrowly approve its tax bill last month, Collins secured promises from top Republicans that Congress would approve two health care bills. The Senate’s tax plan would repeal a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires people to have health insurance. Collins wants the bills approved to offset impacts that would have on consumers’ health insurance premiums.
But the health care bills were reportedly not included in a stopgap government funding bill that must be approved to avoid government shutdown. The finalized tax bill is set to be voted on next week, but it is unclear whether the measures promised to Collins will be in place before she votes.
On Thursday, Collins suggested that a reporter from Talking Points Memo should “wait and see what happens.” But on Friday the protesters said they think their senator was duped.
Collins spoke with the protesters over the phone while they were in her office. Foster read a prepared statement critiquing the tax bill, which she called “class warfare” because it would cut corporate tax rates.
“There are many misstatements in what you just read, which I think is very unfortunate,” Collins could be heard over the speaker phone telling the group afterwards.
The senator “appreciates hearing from her constituents and respects their right to protest,” her
communications director, Annie Clark, said in a statement after the conversation.
BDN staffer Troy R. Bennett contributed reporting.
Follow Jake Bleiberg at: @JZBleiberg.
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