Two and a half days after Susan Collins handed Donald Trump a victory with a decisive vote on Brett Kavanaugh and a bizarrely deranged speech aimed at alienating everyone on the American left and middle, she’s still auditioning for Trump’s approval. Collins hit the Sunday morning talk show circuit to spew more Trump-like rhetoric in Kavanaugh’s favor, and she’s also appearing on 60 Minutes tonight. This has led to questions across the board about what Trump might be hanging over her head. One popular theory has emerged in particular.
Back on September 13th, Congress sent the 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill to Donald Trump’s desk for his signature or veto. That bill just happened to include $162 million for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Even though Portsmouth itself is in New Hampshire, the shipyard is located just across the state line in Susan Collins’ state of Maine. Collins was particularly pleased by the measure, as evidenced by the statement she released, which was quoted by the Bangor Daily News at the time.
This has led a number of people on social media to suggest that the bill is still sitting on Donald Trump’s desk, and that he may have privately used the threat of a veto to convince Collins to throw her support behind Kavanaugh. The theory goes that Trump may still be using the threat of a veto in order to further motivate Collins to keep making media appearances in Kavanaugh’s favor – and that she’s begun speaking in Trump-ian language in a concerted effort at winning him over. There’s just one problem.
The Constitution only gives the President ten days to sign or veto a bill – and the 2019 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill landed on Donald Trump’s desk far more than ten days ago. In fact the Military Times confirmed on September 21st that Trump had in fact signed it.
So if Donald Trump used the threat of a veto to motivate Collins to vote “yes,” he did it more than two weeks ago, and he already gave away his leverage by signing it. It’s possible that Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Susan Collins did have a longstanding secret agreement about this. But it wouldn’t be possible for Trump and McConnell to still be using the bill to pressure Collins into making these subsequent, increasingly bizarre, pro-Kavanaugh media appearances. If Collins is (still) being greenmailed or blackmailed, there would have to something else involved.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report