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Collins talks infrastructure, Jan. 6 commission and more on SOTU

Sen. Susan Collins was on CNN's 'State of the Union' with Jake Tapper Sunday
Credit: CNN

MAINE, USA — Hours before senators unveiled a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure package, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, one of the senators involved in the bipartisan effort, sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” to discuss the package, the Jan. 6 commission, Roe v. Wade, and more.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act clocked in at some 2,700 pages, and senators could begin amending it soon. Collins said it’s her hope that they’ll finish the bill by the end of the week.

A key part of President Joe Biden’s agenda, the bipartisan bill is the first phase of Biden’s infrastructure plan. It calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years above projected federal levels, what could be one of the more substantial expenditures on the nation’s roads, bridges, waterworks, broadband, and the electric grid in years.

“This bill is good for America,” Collins said. “Every senator can look at bridges and roads and need for more broadband, waterways in their state, seaports, airports … and see the benefits, the very concrete benefits, no pun intended, of this legislation. It's going to make us more competitive, more productive, [and] it's going to create good jobs.”

Sixty votes in a 50-50 Senate will be needed to overcome a filibuster and advance the legislation. Collins told Tapper she thinks at least 10 Republicans will vote for the bill.

“I think each senator will make his or her own decision and look at the benefits to his or her own state. I have worked with the members of our group so that we have a state-by-state analysis and in the end, I think we will have more than 10 Republicans who support the bill,” she said. “It's worth pointing out that President Trump proposed an infrastructure package of I think $1.5 trillion, so he too at one point recognized the need for investment in infrastructure.”

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Tapper and Collins also discussed the congressional committee that will investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Collins supported an effort to create an independent commission, which was ultimately blocked by Senate Republicans in May. That latest effort to probe the riot will move forward whether Republicans participate or not, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared last week after rejecting two Republicans—Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio—House leader Kevin McCarthy attempted to appoint.

Last week, four police officers who fought on the front lines of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 testified before a House committee—the first opportunity for rank-and-file officers to speak directly on the record to the members of Congress they defended with their lives.

In testimony that conveyed the ongoing sadness, pain and, at times, rage of the men and women who stood against thousands of insurrectionists on Jan. 6, two Capitol Police officers – Sgt. Aquilino Gonell and Officer Harry Dunn – and two D.C. Metropolitan Police officers – Officers Daniel Hodges and Michael Fanone – spoke for more than three hours about the violent assaults, xenophobic insults and lingering injuries they suffered.

Tapper played a clip from Fanone’s testimony where he says it’s painful to know many of his fellow citizens and the people he put his life at risk to defend “are downplaying or outright denying what happened.”

“The indifference shown to my colleagues is disgraceful,” Fanone said in his testimony.

RELATED: 'All of them were saying: Trump sent us' | In first testimony, officers say no confusion about who sparked Capitol riot

“I fought very hard to have an independent bipartisan, nonpartisan outside commission to look at all of the events of that day and I'm very disappointed that it was not approved,” Collins said. “I think it would have had far more credibility than Speaker Pelosi's partisan committee that she has set up, but we should have had a 9/11-style commission to fully look at what happened.”

Pelosi has appointed Reps. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney of Wyoming to serve on the congressional committee. Kinzinger and Cheney, who are both Republicans, have been vocal critics of former President Donald Trump and his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, and both voted to impeach Trump.  

Collins said she respects both Kinzinger and Cheney, but said “I do not think it was right for the speaker to decide which Republicans should be on the committee.”

“Normally if you have a select committee, the minority leader and the speaker get to pick the members,” Collins said. But Tapper argued Jordan and Banks were rejected because they’re “election liars” and “one of whom, Jim Jordan, is possibly even a material witness, he spoke with Trump [on Jan. 6.]”

“As you know, I believe that while the rioters are primarily responsible for what happened, there's no doubt in my mind that President Trump helped instigate and motivate the rioters and that's one reason I voted to impeach him,” Collins said. “The hallmark of our democracy is the peaceful transfer of power and for anyone—the rioters, the president, anyone—to try to interfere with the electoral college count is completely unacceptable.”

During the interview on Sunday morning, Collins also defended her record on Supreme Court nominations when pressed by Tapper on whether or not she thinks the high court will protect Roe v. Wade. Collins has been criticized for voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh despite her stance supporting abortion rights. With Trump’s third appointee on the court, Amy Coney Barrett—whom Collins voted against confirming—gives the Supreme Court a 6-3 conservative majority, Tapper said.

Collins argued, however, that last month the Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the Obama-era law, the Affordable Care Act.

“There were a lot of naysayers on the left that said they would never hold up the Affordable Care Act—they did. They said they would never hold up same-sex marriages—Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court justice, wrote the decision on banning discrimination in the workplace,” Collins said. “So I think that a lot of people on the left and pundits have been wrong about how the court has respected precedent, we'll have to see.”

“I would also note that I have voted for six of the nine justices on the court including some of the most liberal ones as well as the more conservative ones,” she continued.

Watch the full interview here:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.