And 3 Senators Who Crossed the Party Line

I have posted the thread on the 7 Democrats that crossed their party lines and voted no on the ridiculous economic spendulus bill. I hailed them for holding to their beliefs in the face of tremendous pressure from their party. It is only fair that I now do the same for the Republican Senators who refused to vote the way that their party demanded that they vote. This is not an endorsement of the stances that they took. I hated the bill. But I do think that these three took a bit more of a chance than even the Democrats from the House did.

I believe they took more of a chance because these three voted against their party in favor of the bill. It passed, and that means that if the bill is a universal flop, these three become the scapegoats that get drawn and quartered for defecting. Without their votes, the bill wouldn’t have gotten through the Senate. The House Democrats, on the other hand knew that the bill was going to pass with or without their vote. They could make a stand without having any real effect other than making a statement. These three Senators, on the other hand, could end up with blood on their hands, and out of a job if it wasn’t what was best for their constituents.

Here are the three Senators that voted “Yes” on the economic stimulus package with some thoughts from them on why they made the choice to go against the grain of their party:

Senator Susan Collins (R, ME) – “This crisis is extraordinary, and my constituents don’t expect me to stay on the sidelines,” said Ms. Collins, a onetime Senate aide who easily won re-election last November. “They expect me to jump in. People don’t want us to be the party that says no, just no.” After the passage of the bill, Snowe stated “It is very hard. These are my friends. I work with them every day. I believe I have done the right thing, but there is a cost, there is a definite cost.” (They are your friends… and you are right there is a definite cost. Not the loss of friends, but a cost to our children and grandchildren. Thanks for that)

Senator Olympia Snowe (R, ME) – “I feel the ability to bridge the divide and corral a consensus on a critical issue facing this country. This is the only option we have in the final analysis as far as a fiscal tool. We have to get it right, and we have to make it work.” On a second statement, “Throughout our deliberations this week in the Senate, I have consistently advocated for a package that will truly stimulate this economy, not an omnibus bill bloated with frivolous spending” Senator Snowe continued. “We must be vigilant to ensure this is the right package that will address the urgency of our economic crisis and achieve credibility with the American people.” (But I should point out that you voted for an omnibus bill bloated with frivolous spending)

Senator Arlen Specter (R, PA) – He points out that he has made a “commitment” to the Democrats, and he “is not going to go back on my word and on a commitment.” He had concerns over the health care portions of the bill, stating “If the Bloomberg Report has pointed out a potential problem…there will be clarification to avoid having the government meddle in what doctors do.” (One problem here: Bloomberg did point out problems, and there was not any clarification as you prescribed, something that might have been noticed with more than 11 hours to vote on the bill, more on these health care provisions coming soon from me)

So I know that many Republicans feel that these three are “traitors” to the party. And I understand why you feel that way. I am sure the Democrats feel the same way about the 7 in the House of Representatives. But I want to point out that this may not be such a fair assessment of their position. 

Think about the discussions that we have had on this blog. We want our elected representatives to serve the people rather than their party. Who is to say that these folks didn’t do exactly that? Until we find otherwise, couldn’t it be safe to assume that these three voted their conscience instead of bowing down and toeing the party line. They used their heads and their beliefs to make the choice they thought best for Maine and Pennsylvania instead of being dictated to and expected to “do as told” by the Republican Party. In Maine, this almost certainly seems the case.

Collins and Snowe have broken from the Republican ranks many times in their tenure in Congress. A large part of that is due to the fact that a Republican in Maine is not the same as a Republican anywhere else in the Country. President Obama won Maine with 58% of the popular vote, while two Republicans hold the two Senate seats and won easily. The fact is that both are extremely moderate Republicans and they are representative of the people who elected them. So while I didn’t like their vote, I do commend them for voting the way that their constituents wanted them vote instead of the way their party wanted them to vote. 

Specter should not be a surprise to anyone. He has sided with the Democrats on many different occasions in the past. But this high profile move may have been what seals his fate in Pennsylvania. One constituent wrote “Mr. Specter, for years I’ve tolerated your pro-choice stance, your voting alongside Democrats on the troop surge and stem cell research, your complete lack of conservative principles.  I’ve tolerated them because I thought even a moderate republican was better than a democrat. Your vote for the stimulus has confirmed in my mind, that I could never vote for a RINO (note: Republican In Name Only) again.  And I must work vigorously over the next two years to get a real conservative elected to your senate seat.” All I can say to Pennsylvanians is that you elected him, over and over, despite his leanings towards the left. You should have stood up for yourselves and demanded someone who was more in line with your beliefs.

The bottom line here is that these three appear to have voted for what they believe in and what they believe their constituents wanted from them instead of voting as their party demanded of them. They are not heroes or traitors. Just people making a vote for a bill that is extremely unpopular right now. History will show them as fools in my opinion, but no more or less fools than the 57 Democrats that voted for this spending bill. This was a big mistake, I will hold them just as accountable for it as the rest of the Democrats who voted for it.


  1. US: You are dead on, to a point. There comes a point in every Senator’s carreer when they are asked to vote for the country and not their constituency. The House is to represent the hot blooded pulse of the populace. The Senate is to temper the House, representing the state point of view but in a more statesman, long term, national interest way, if you will. That is why the Senate has a filibuster….to slow things down. In the end you may be correct in that these three voted for what they thought was best for both their state and the country. For that I give them the benefit of the doubt. But what they did not do, was help slow it down until the American people could review and digest what was in it and what it might mean. That is there role and they turned their back on it. For that, I give no forgiveness.

    At a recent political meeting a speaker was explaining why he had supported our Dem Senator on the radio. He explained, as do many, that he had vetoed the earlier spending bills because they did not do enough for our state. My reply was this..”I do not send my Senator to Washington D.C. to bankrupt the nation just to bring cookies home to my state.” But then that is just me.

    P.S., I will be contributing to those efforts to dethrone Mr. Spectar, more for his past positions than this but, this has also pushed me over the edge with respect to him.

    • Citizen,

      You have a very good point there about the Senators being the ones to slow things down and do what is best for the country. I can agree that they didn’t do their job there. I am not a fan of these three. But I felt it was fair to given them equal time for facing down their party like the Democrats did. The original piece that I wrote about them was a bit nastier, but I trashed it in an effort to remain fair and honest.

      I am not a fan of Specter for sure. I am originally from PA so I usually follow what goes on there. I have never liked him much.

  2. A modest proposal. Let us begin by taking our $ 8.00 per week tax cut and put it aside. As these senators come up for reelection, let us donate 1/3rd of that money to their primary opponent. Should they still win the primary, I am even willing to donate to the democrat opposing them. We can’t do much worse. I also believe we should let them know we are doing this.

    Spector particularly annoys me. He was the beneficiary of Rick Santorum’s support in his last run. When Santorum needed help in ’06, Spector sat it out. I just don’t like ungrateful people.

  3. G. A. Rowe says:

    Originally, I think, the Senators were appointed by the Governors of their respective states. I think that changed sometime in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s to them being voted in by popular votes in their respective states. The reason for the change was “even the playing field” or something like that. Preventing Governors having only Senators from their political parties, voting for things in only one (the Governors wishes) way. didn’t change much.

    I would like it George Washington’s way – NO political parties at all!

  4. Specter is one of my senators… in response to my questioning his vote on something he could not have read or known the contents of, his reply was that “something had to be done”. He went on to say that McCain’s plan was his preferred option… they were able to trim some of the bill… it is important to work with the majority to get things done… blah blah blah. He’s been in Washington so long, I suppose he really hasn’t much in the way of principle any longer. House and senate term limits would be a good thing. Real good. God speed, Mr Specter, God speed.

%d bloggers like this: