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Sen. Susan Collins warns that Democrats' surprise climate deal could endanger bipartisan support for same-sex marriage bill

Business Insider logo Business Insider 7/29/2022 esnodgrass@insider.com (Erin Snodgrass)
Susan Collins Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images © Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images Susan Collins Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images
  • Sen. Susan Collins thinks Democrats' politicking could cost them votes on a same-sex marriage bill.
  • The Republican told HuffPost that Democrats' climate deal could tank bipartisan support in other areas.
  • "I just think the timing could not have been worse and it came totally out of the blue," Collins said.

Democrats may be one step closer to declaring economic victory in the Senate, but one Republican lawmaker is warning that their closed-door dealings could have bipartisan consequences. 

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine suggested the surprise climate deal struck by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin this week on a skinnier version of the president's economic agenda could tank bipartisan efforts to pass a bill protecting same-sex marriage.

"I just think the timing could not have been worse and it came totally out of the blue," Collins told HuffPost.

Democrats announced the deal on Thursday just hours after 17 Senate Republicans joined all 50 Democrats to approve a $52 billion bill to strengthen the US industry responsible for computer chips that power smartphones, medical devices, and other high-tech items. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had previously threatened to hold up the semiconductor legislation if Democrats tried advancing their health, climate, and tax bill.

The economic legislation would be passed through the budget reconciliation process, requiring only 50 Democratic votes and essentially curtailing any path of GOP resistance.

"After we just had worked together successfully on gun safety legislation, on the CHIPs bill, it was a very unfortunate move that destroys the many bipartisan efforts that are under way," Collins told the outlet.

The Maine Republican is currently trying to shore up support for the Respect for Marriage Act after the House passed the legislation last week with support from all 220 Democrats, and an additional 47 Republicans. Five Senate Republicans have signaled support for the bill, opening the gate for the necessary 10 Republican votes needed on top of all 50 Democrats in order for the legislation to pass.

If the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, it would formally repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a women. The courts later struck that definition down, but the original law remained on the books. The Respect for Marriage Act would also prohibit any state actor from "failing to give full effect to an out-of-state marriage" on the basis of sex, race, gender, or national origin.

Democrats quickly began calling to codify same-sex marriage protections after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month in a decision that reversed federal abortion rights. While Justice Samuel Alito's majority opinion said the case should not affect any other rights, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion suggesting that the court "reconsider" certain landmark decisions, including the right to same-sex marriage. 

But after Democrats' Wednesday surprise, Collins says support for the gay-marriage bill, as well as a slew of other bipartisan efforts, could be in trouble. 

Time is running out before lawmakers' August recess. Collins told HuffPost that she didn't know if the Respect for Marriage Act would ultimately be pushed to the fall campaign season, but said she plans to continue drumming up support for the legislation in the meantime.

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