Susan Collins is always saying how disappointed she is, but I don’t think she actually understands what that means.

Disappointment is watching your income dry up when a pandemic hits, leaving you and your children with virtually nothing. Disappointment is seeing the meager support you were receiving start to disappear because Congress can’t compromise. Disappointment is watching Sen. Collins failing to get the job done to deliver the help we need to survive this crisis.

Like a lot of Mainers, the coronavirus struck my life — and my livelihood — from every angle. As a truck driver, many might assume I’d be considered an essential worker. I spent over 60 hours per week picking up waste food products at Walmart and driving it out to farms for use as fertilizer. But I was laid off early in the pandemic, and the last six months have been a scramble to pick up the pieces.

At first, I was able to coast by OK — I had my finances in order and was responsible with my savings. When I lost work, I was glad that unemployment came with an extra $600 per week. This helped me cover expenses related to my diabetes, my three kids, and my day-to-day costs. But with that gone, I’m bringing in just $356 per week. I was making too much before all of this to qualify for MaineCare, so my family really is on our own. I’ve even taken on as much personal responsibility as I could, even changing my diet to try and control my diabetes. But eating healthy is a steep expense itself.

Obviously, Susan Collins has never had to collect unemployment during tough times. If she had, she would know the frustration of having a broken vehicle but no savings left to fix it. If she had, she might understand the struggles of trying to buy school clothes for five kids on a shoestring budget. If she had, she would have spent the last four months demanding Mitch McConnell put the only recent COVID relief bill that’s actually passed — the HEROES Act — on the Senate floor immediately.

This pandemic has left me with so little, but I know I’m not alone. Thousands of Mainers have lost their jobs, their income, and the basic dignity of their work. That’s why seeing help for Mainers become a political football has been so disturbing to me. Our lives, our families, and our jobs are not a game. Mainers are tough. We’re self-sufficient people who don’t ask for much in terms of handouts, and we either make do or we do without. However, the one thing we do ask for is representation in Washington that stands up for us in dire situations like these.

Unfortunately, there is a glaring absence of that leadership, and it’s extremely disappointing.

Sen. Collins’ refusal to publicly and forcefully demand a vote on the HEROES Act to provide hardworking Mainers and our families with the support we need, once again shows how we are all paying the price of her loyalty to Mitch McConnell. While we’re all trying to get back to work, she’s in Washington failing to get the job done.

I used to think Sen. Collins was Maine material. Tough. Loyal. Independent. I used to believe when she went to Washington, she was acting on our behalf. But now when I see “R-Maine” beside her name, I can’t help but feel like the “R” really does come before “Maine” for her. It’s time for our state to have a senator who’s fighting for us, not for Mitch McConnell.

Dan Adams lives in Garland.

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