U.S. Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Susan Collins, R-Maine Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer, file

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine doesn’t think former President Donald Trump will succeed in pressuring her Republican colleagues into derailing a supplemental budget bill that includes a border security agreement and foreign aid to Ukraine and Israel.

In a phone interview on Thursday, Collins said she is optimistic the Senate will approve the bipartisan border security deal being hammered out by Republican James Langford of Oklahoma, independent Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

“I think that we’re on track to produce a supplemental funding bill that is going to have a very important bipartisan border security piece as well as funding to help Ukraine to continue to counter Russian aggression,” Collins said. “I think we can get it approved by the Senate.”

Such a win would be over growing opposition from Trump, who had been pressuring Republican senators behind the scenes earlier this week to nix a border deal now so that he could campaign on immigration failures in his presidential bid. He went public with that pressure Thursday.

“A Border Deal now would be another Gift to the Radical Left Democrats,” Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social. “They need it politically, but don’t care about our Border. What is currently being worked on in the Senate will be meaningless in terms of Border Security.”

But Collins, who said she was not approached by Trump or anyone else trying to nix the deal, believes the record-setting 300,000 people who illegally entered the United States in December underscores the importance of reaching an agreement now, even if it is only a partial solution.


“Senators and their constituents are very concerned about the crisis at the border, which is both a humanitarian crisis and a national security crisis,” Collins said. “There’s a feeling of urgency in addressing this problem.”

Maine’s other senator, independent Angus King, remains hopeful, too, telling CNN this week that negotiators were close to reaching a deal with the potential to be the strongest border control legislation in 40 years – if the Senate can transcend the politics of the moment.

“This is a real test for some of my colleagues,” King said. “Do they want a solution or do they want the problem to use it as a political issue? This is a historic opportunity to get something done that may not come around again.”

Saying that timing was everything, King urged his colleagues to embrace the compromise on border security to free up aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. A failure to stand by our allies because we can’t agree on the timing of a border security deal would be “not only tragic, but a huge mistake,” King said.

“If we don’t do Ukraine, our allies are going to question us around the world,” King said. “China is watching like a hawk. Russia is watching like a hawk. Japan and South Korea have to talk about, ‘Can we trust the Americans?’ ”

During her interview, Collins also elaborated on comments she made Wednesday in Washington, D.C., about whom she would be supporting for president. She has said she will not endorse Trump, with whom she has clashed, or President Biden.


She also declined, at least for now, to endorse former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Trump’s last remaining rival for the Republican nomination, although she said she was glad to learn that Haley was staying in the race after losing in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

Collins had initially declined to endorse anyone because she is friends with several Republican candidates, including Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.


Now that they’ve dropped out, however, Collins is presumably free to endorse Haley without offending a friend, but so far she has declined. When asked what was stopping her from backing Haley, Collins laughed, said she was extremely busy, and said she was going to wait to see what happens.

“There is a long way to go in this race,” Collins said Thursday. “It’s always difficult to figure out how an election cycle is going to unfold, but the next contest is in South Carolina, and I don’t think that is a state where I have much influence anyway, you know.”

Haley is the former governor of South Carolina. Although she remains popular there, South Carolina backed Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. State polls taken before the Iowa caucuses showed Haley trailing Trump by about 30 percentage points.

Collins did not endorse Trump in 2016, and said she cast a write-in vote for House Speaker Paul Ryan for president that November. In 2020, when she also was running for reelection, Collins refused to say if she would support Trump in the weeks leading up to the election.

Collins voted to convict Trump after his 2021 impeachment trial on charges he incited the Capitol mob.

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