September 21st, 2010
12:22 PM ET
4 years ago

Dana Bash: Sen. Collins' not so secret phone call

A couple of sources gave me a heads up that moderate Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins is considered such a crucial vote on the Defense bill, Vice President Joe Biden called her this morning to lobby her. Collins supports repealing the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy. She was the only Republican to vote with Democrats in committee to approve the language in the bill that allows the repeal, after a Pentagon review is complete and military leaders sign off. But she is signaling that Tuesday's procedural vote, she is sticking with her party.

CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett caught up with Collins outside the Senate chamber just now and asked her about the call, and she was really surprised we knew about it.

Here's how the conversation went:


Collins: "Now how did you know Vice President Biden called me? Geez. He told me it was a secret call. We just talked about my frustration that I support the provisions in the Defense bill on 'don't ask, don't tell' and yet the process is such that it's forcing me to cast a vote against proceeding to the bill in order to protect minority rights. He seemed to understand that. Having been a senator for as long as Joe Biden was, he has a great understanding for the frustrations."

Ted: "So, he called to try to persuade you?"

Collins: "No, it was a discussion. He knows he doesn't have to persuade me on the underlying issue. I agree with it."

A footnote to that conversation: After their call Collins went to the Senate floor to plead with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid one last time for what she calls an open process that allows her colleagues to offer amendments to change the bill. A spokesman for Reid made clear to us, no deal. Democrats insist Republicans will in fact have ample opportunity to offer amendments – after the election.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. GOP Scorched Earth Politics

    Hey Susan...why does a celebrity have to get involved in order to get your attention? The Republicans are trying to pretend to do something instead of just playing games and stalling for time until after the mid-terms. If Boner wins, they are just going to repeal the repeal, strip our healthcare rights, and turnover power back to their Big $ cronies.

    September 21, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  2. Spence40

    Phil Gramm snuck the Future's Modernization Act in that was a major contributor to the Stock Market Crash as part of an Omnibus Bill that was needed. Now Harry Reid is trying the same with both Amnesty and "Don't Ask, don't Tell" which are both critical issues that need full Congressional debate. If this is an example of U.S. Politics, it is no wonder we are in the dire straights we are as a Nation!

    September 21, 2010 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  3. Jeff from Va

    Wow, and Reid would not allow an open process, I just wonder what all they are adding to this bill, that they have to handle it like this.

    September 21, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  4. Go back

    Why don't they leave well enough alone and gaga can go back to where ever she came and be quiet.

    September 21, 2010 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Drewster

    Thankfully there are some moderate Republicans who can see the value of this amendment. I find it somewhat disendenuos to attach it to a defense bill but the Republicans voting against it are showing their lack of support for our armed forces over a relatively easy call.

    September 21, 2010 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Dave

    "Democrats insist Republicans will in fact have ample opportunity to offer amendments – after the election."

    Ain't that the truth...

    September 21, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. Deborah/Kansas City

    Once again the Republicans want to add a bunch of amendments that have nothing to do with the bill and will then likely vote against it anyway, because it is "too many pages". They make me sick with their hypocrisy and lies.

    September 21, 2010 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Just another example of folks to worried about themselves and politics, that don't vote for what is truly right and just !!! These folks seems to think this is all just one big game..they fail to realize the are affecting real people's lives !!!

    September 21, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    So, she's another one that will vote for freedom ONLY if the republicans are back in control??

    Sounds like coercion or blackmail to me – both of which are unethical and illegal.

    Vote out the party of NO.

    September 21, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  10. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    Poor........poor Republicans, their party has been hijacked by the Koch brothers, creators and the ones who fund the Tea Party!

    America asks: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR AMERICA GOP?

    In NOvember vote NO for the Party of NO!

    September 21, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. Snow

    She will be running for re-election and she had better consider that if she wants to break with the Republicans "again". There will be Tea Party candidates for her seat on her next re-election bid.

    September 21, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  12. bill

    this is america.i dont give a dam abou someones personal preferences.WHAT IS THE MATTER REPUBS.afraid of the truth.how many gay and lesbeins.gave their life so you fools could be free.

    September 21, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. izzy

    Where in the Constitution is health care a "RIGHT" lol
    you democraps are so brainwashed.

    September 21, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Vic of New York

    Is this "Dana Bash" , George Bush's White House "pet" making some sort of revelation? The Right-wing mutant , "white cracker", "sell it for the cause" bimbo commenting? Sorry Dana, if Collins votes against the Appropriation Bill – she's history in two years. The people of Maine aren't big on TEA Party Bimbos

    September 21, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  15. FedUpwithPolitics

    I'm all for repealing DADT, and am fed up with GOP's "do anything to make the administration fail" policy, but even I admit that this is a stupid decision on Harry Reid's part.

    First, they took a War Funding bill and stuck some amendments in there dealing with immigration. Then they try ramming that though before the break and the elections.

    They claim this is not the actual DADT repeal, that this just opens it up for discussion, but anyone who's not blind or stupid knows that if this goes through it will allow Reid to push Republicans completely out of the DADT vote entirely, by changing the voting times, calling votes when only Democrats are present, etc... Even though I lean toward the Dem's, this behavior is unacceptable.

    IMHO, DADT is unconstitutional, and no different than denying service to a black person or a woman, BUT they cannot successfully repeal it with political games such as this. Even if they did, it would not change anything because their methods would be suspect and would be challenged for years.

    I say it's time politicians stopped playing games. It is time for them to stop adding off-topic items such as immigration into a military funding bill just to try getting it passed.

    September 21, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Al-NY,NY

    She probably got multiple death threats from T-baggin' psychos

    September 21, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. Carrotroot

    DADT was recently declared unconstitutional by the lower courts, if it doesn't get the votes now then what? will we have to wait for it to meander through the rest of the court system for this stupid policy to end? I hope at least one Republican will vote with the Democrats to finally end DADT.

    September 21, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Well I have never been exactly clear on the Don't Ask Don't Tell thing. I assume it is about Gay's serving in the Military. It is a sticky subject to be sure. I have no problem with Gay's Serving but some do. It seems there are places a gay person could serve but it's like the Aesop, fable about needing to put a Bell on the Cat by the Mice. Everybody agrees it need to be done but who was brave enough to do it.

    Aw, hell I got it. Just blame it on Bush and be done with it. If you want to be sucessful get up and do it. Don't expect me to do it for you!

    You people that want a handout make me sick.

    September 21, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  19. Bill

    @ deborah, Kansas City:
    "Once again Republicans want to add a bunch of amendments that have nothing to do with the bill"....What position of importance do you hold that has allowed you to read the amendments the Republicans wish to present?
    Point #2: Never turn your back on Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe, it puts you in danger of winding up with a knife wound.

    September 21, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. Tag

    In response to Deborah/Kansas City:
    The Dems added this as an amendment to the Defense appropriations bill. Not the republicans. You may be sick but let's not fool ourselves here.

    Take an honest look at social agenda items which the Democrats have added and have nothing to do with funding our military:

    1. Rolland Burris- Democrat, Illinois added an amendment to end the ban on military abortions.
    2. Harry Reid- Democrat, Nevada has added an amendment known as the Dream Act allowing certain illegal aliens amnesty.
    3. Harry Reid- Democrat, Nevada (once again) has added an amendment repealing the "Don't ask, Don't Tell" policy concerning Gays in the military.

    Dems would like to pursue this type of social agenda by connecting it to the Defense Appropriations bill thus forcing the Republicans to vote against the entire bill. They then can take the "high" ground by claiming the Republicans are playing politics with our nations military budget while our sons and daughters are in harms way.

    Your right about the hypocrisy and lies. Your outrage is just a little misdirected.

    Good luck with this one.

    September 21, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. vtwin

    Think maybe Susan Collins has seen the wrath of the Tea Party and quit this mamsby pambsy moderate crap. Ms Collins tow the line or get off our team.

    September 21, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. All the news that is fit to omit

    These games by the Lemocraps have NOTHING TO DO WITH POLICY and all about politics.

    See you in November, actually WE WON'T SEE YOU AFTER NOVEMBER will we......?

    September 21, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. Padraig

    These comments are rich. Like the Democratic representatives never did any of what the Repulbicans are being accused of (i.e. Deborah/Kansas City).

    I recall "Fearless Leader" Obama was going to get rid of all earmarks. That didn't happen, it stayed the same or got worse. Look at the Health Care Bill.

    September 21, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. Peter E

    So republicans would have plenty of opportunity to offer amendments, just like they asked, after the election... which is different HOW from what it would if the debate went ahead now? Even democrats said there is no way this bill would be voted on this year, and that debate will keep going well into next year. I'm not sure what republicans are trying to oppose... Other than that they want to keep voting NO until the election so their campaigns don't have to suffer backlash from their own party's overlords.
    This is campaign maneuvering, nothing more.

    September 21, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  25. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Republicans criticize Reid for adding irrelevant amendments to the bill, while whining that they themselves don't get to add their irrelevant ammendments... HYPOCRISY!!!

    September 21, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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