Chris Collins

Collins: Kelly Accepted Chief Of Staff Position To Be The Gate-Keeper

From the Morning Memo:

Between Monday stops in Rochester and Buffalo, Rep. Chris Collins learned Anthony Scaramucci would no longer be the president’s communication director. When asked about the situation Monday, he made a point that Scaramucci was not “fired” by the administration but resigned.

With more reports later, detailing how Scaramucci was asked to step aside, Collins elaborated on his stance Tuesday. The congressman maintained it was his understanding he tendered his resignation but focused more on new Chief Of Staff John Kelly.

“I think this is a sign that General Kelly is a no-nonsense, get-it-done general and he’s going to take control of the comings and goings in the West Wing and I think he’s made it clear and I think he accepted the job under the premise he’s going to be the chief of staff that’s going to be the gate-keeper and I think that’s good for all of us.”

Collins pointed to the fact that Scaramucci was among a number of people reporting directly to Donald Trump while Reince Priebus was chief of staff. He said that’s not a good model nor is it one to which he believes Kelly subscribes.

“The president can’t have 14 people reporting directly to him in the White House and the Oval Office and he needs a gate-keeper and it’s too early to tell but it’s my understanding that the premise under which General Kelly accepted this position is he will be the gate-keeper for the President,” Collins said.

The Republican congressman, while not specifically arguing the appearance of instability in the White House, also rejected the idea that it would have any impact on the Republican congressional agenda.

“The administration will ultimately be involved as we’re trying to get bills signed into law. They will be giving us their guidance as to what they would like to see at the top line for tax reform or infrastructure but that’s our job in Congress.”

Slaughter Opposed To Collins SAFE Act Repeal Bill

From the Morning Memo:

Veteran Rep. Louise Slaughter isnt’t giving much consideration to her colleague Chris Collins’s plan to repeal a portion of New York’s SAFE Act through federal legislation.

“I would be extremely surprised to see any action on that in Washington,” she told reporters Tuesday in Rochester.

Even if the bill, which would negate shotgun and rifle requirements for hunters, did gain support in the U.S. House, Slaughter is convinced it wouldn’t pass Constitutional muster with regards to the Tenth Amendment.

“I know the SAFE Act has withstood several constitutional questions in state courts. It is a state law and no matter what Collins wants to do, he cannot amend that state law or do away with it,” she said.

Slaughter made a point to say she grew up with a family of hunters in Kentucky. She said she has no intention of “taking anybody’s guns away” but has concerns about the bill opening the door for Congress to pass detrimental legislation that leads to unfit people ending up with guns in their hands. She said she doesn’t believe the House would do that.

“When you’re afraid that your children go to school in the morning, you may not see them again, or if your family goes to an event of some sort, that some awful thing will happen to them, we don’t need to live like that,” she said.

Collins Will Support Any GOP Who Wants To Take On Cuomo

From the Morning Memo:

Over the last year, Western New York Rep. Chris Collins has gone from a relative unknown on the national stage, to one of the president’s most prominent supporters and surrogates.

Even more recently, the Republican has taken on another role for his party in New York: Foil-in-chief to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Collins and Cuomo already had a very public battle this year over health care. The congressman helped author the Collins-Faso amendment for the American Health Care Act, designed to shift the cost of Medicaid from the counties to the state. In response, the governor lashed out at Collins, even threatening to name a new property tax after him, and also pledged to sue if the amendment became part of a larger health care reform package in D.C.

That argument appears to have faded for now with the death of the Republican health care reform effort, but the congressman has found a new issue with which to needle the governor.

Yesterday, Collins introduced federal legislation that would supersede state gun laws and effectively repeal part of the SAFE Act – one of Cuomo’s signature policy achievements.

During a press conference in Rochester, Collins seemed to take satisfaction at the concept of once again being the thorn in Cuomo’s side, saying with a grin: “I know it’s going to drive the governor absolutely crazy because we’re calling him out for another unconstitutional move.”

The governor released a statement about the proposal with some pot shots of his own. He called the legislation a disturbing, blatant political ploy that will make New Yorkers less safe, and one that’s being proposed without a legal leg to stand on.

“The courts have resoundingly upheld New York’s law as consistent with the Constitution,” Cuomo said. “We understand that Washington is in turmoil right now – we just ask that they don’t do anything to set back the progress we’ve been able to make despite them.”

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Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Cuomo ally who has no lost love for Collins after ousting him from the county executive’s office several years back, discussed the bill and the feud last night on Capital Tonight.

He said he believes that the congressman’s gun bill is unconstitutional because, like the Collins-Faso Amendment, it is designed only for one state. He also questioned Collins’ motives.

“I think it is bad blood between the two of them,” Poloncarz said. “I’m not exactly certain if this is more of the congressman’s way to take a shot at the governor than it is to talk about policy.”

Despite questions about constitutionality and state’s rights, Collins is backing away from neither the proposal nor his criticisms of Cuomo, but he made clear his opposition will continue to come from the congressional seat. At the Rochester gun club, a member urged the congressman to announce his intentions to run for governor – a seat he has eyed in the past.

“A definitive no to that,” Collins quickly responded. “Definitive.”

Collins said he has talked to other Republicans, including Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and former state comptroller candidate Harry Wilson, about their interest in running.

“I can just assure everyone, whoever ends up being our candidate, I’m going to support them 100 percent,” he said.

Collins said he’s not sure yet that Cuomo will even be the Democratic candidate for the 2018 general election in Novmeber, because he thinks the governor is susceptible to another challenge from within his own party.

Rep. Collins On Health Care: ‘We Wasted Six Months’

Even as President Trump took to Twitter over the weekend urging Republican Senators not to give up on health care and invoke the “nuclear option,” one of his biggest supporters says the debate for now is all but over. Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27, said he believes Trump actually feels the same way.

“Now what he’s saying to the Senate is, of course, if you can get it done, go get it done. I see zero chance of them doing it so it’s more of a rhetorical statement that he’s making,” he said.

Collins, in Rochester on Monday, took it a step farther, saying Trump was never in favor of Congress taking on repeal of the Affordable Care Act right away, because it didn’t have Democrat support. The congressman said he and the President are in favor of waiting for the current system to implode so there will be more of a public outcry for change.

“I would remind people, the President was right on January 1. We wasted six months. We did not get anything done and now we will be pivoting to tax reform where we can potentially get some bipartisan support. It’s not as emotional.”

Collins said he’s not concerned about potential gridlock from representatives who want to address health care before moving on to other legislation. He said it’s leadership and committee chairmen that drive legislative agenda, not individual members of Congress.

Collins Blames ‘Fake News’ From Health Care Industry For Bill’s Demise

Rep. Chris Collins blamed an extensive lobbying effort by the health care industry that sunk the chances of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Collins, in a radio interview on Talk-1300, knocked the opposition to the Republican-led health care reform efforts as “fake news” that unfairly cast the legislation.

“The hospitals and the insurance companies, we’ll call it fake news, the very disingenuous way helped torpedo our efforts with their lobbying, commercials on TV,” he said.

Health care groups were opposed to efforts that would have led to reduced Medicaid spending as well as changes to the existing health care law that potentially would have driven up costs for insuring sicker Americans. At the same time, removing a mandate that all Americans purchase insurance or face a penalty.

But Collins said the opposition was to their detriment, considering the potential for rate increases and a destabilized marketplace in some states.

“At some point the Democrats will have to acknowledge it totally failed,” Collins said, “and maybe America will realize we’re trying to pre-emptively trying to fix things.”

The version of the repeal and replace bill in the U.S. Senate died this week after the measure lost support from four Republican lawmakers. A bill that would have simply repealed most of the exist law has also failed to gain traction. Republicans in Congress are now likely to turn to tax code changes after President Trump indicated he would let the current law “collapse” on its own.

“We didn’t get it done,” Collins said. “The plain and simple matter is we got it done in the House, we did not in the Senate. It doesn’t look like we’ll change any minds there.”

26-Year-Old Republican Challenging Rep. Collins

A young Republican is challenging Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, in New York’s 27th Congressional District. Frank Smierciak II said his motivation to run was the “lackluster performance of current congressional leadership.”

The 26-year-old said he plans to run a positive campaign focusing on issues like dwindling Social Security funds, skyrocketing health care costs, and gun rights.

“I am doing this for the men, women and children that have been left behind and continually see Congress and the Washington elite take care of their own needs first and leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves.   It is time to regain our liberty, our constitutional rights, and build a climate where we can live a healthy, prosperous life,” he said.

The next election is not until the fall of 2016. Collins has held the seat since 2012.

“We welcome anyone who wants to engage in the political process and look forward to discussing Chris’ record of delivering for hardworking families of NY-27,” the congressman’s spokesperson Chris Grant said.

In his introductory press release, Smierciak took an apparent shot at his opponent’s policy not to host town-hall style public meetings. The candidate said being accessible to his constituents is one of his top priorities and he plans to hold them regularly.

“People are also frustrated with the inability to contact or discuss issues with Congressmen,” he said.

So far, no Democratic challengers have emerged in NY-27 although a coalition of county chairs and grassroots organizations have been interviewing potential candidates to take on Collins.

As one of the president’s biggest supporters in Washington, Collins has become an even bigger target for Democrats than in past years.

Slaughter Calls Again For Investigation Into Stock Connected To Collins

Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, once again, is reiterating calls for an investigation into stock trades surrounding Australian biotech company Innate Immunotherapeutics. This after share values plummeted Tuesday by more than 90 percent.

The collapse comes following the company’s announcement that a clinical trial for a multiple sclerosis treatment failed to show any meaningful results. According to a press release, while further analysis should be reported in the next month, “it is unlikely the result will significantly change.”

The company’s largest shareholder is Western New York Congressman Chris Collins. The Republican has strongly denied accusations he did anything illegal or unethical by talking up the stock to other members of Congress and friends in Western New York, some of whom purchased shares.

Slaughter said the collapse raises a whole new set of questions.

“This follows the company previously suggesting a great response to its drug and touting that it stood to generate as much as $3 billion in profits in this country alone,” she said. “This raises very serious questions as to when Congressman Collins knew about the drug’s performance and who is responsible for the suspicious trading before the drug’s failure was publicly known. Did Congressman Collins come here to make money for himself or to represent his constituents?”

An analyst for financial services company Motley Fool noted a “sell-off” appeared to begin Friday, days before the company announced the trial results, and shortly before the company announced a trading halt.

We’ve reached out to the congressman’s office for a response.

Collins And Katko Hosting Meeting About Lake Ontario Shoreline

From the Memo:

Upstate Republican Congressmen Chris Collins and John Katko will host a meeting in Washington D.C. today to discuss flooding and damages along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

Collins’s office said county leaders from Orleans, Niagara, Monroe and Wayne Counties will participate in the discussion. Representatives from various government agencies are also expected to be in attendance.

Specifically, the focus will be on how the International Joint Committee has regulated the levels of the lake and the St. Lawrence River. The congressman’s office said the IJC’s Plan 2014 is directly connected to the “devastation” along the shoreline.

Collins and Katko are calling on the commission to renegotiate the plan.

“Plan 2014 is the IJC’s plan to regulate the water levels in Lake Ontario creating higher-highs and lower-lows and at a more frequent pace. Lake Ontario’s current water levels are higher than they have been in over a century and experts predict it will be months until the levels drop. Increased water levels have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to homeowners, businesses, and municipalities in Central and Western New York,” Collins’s office wrote in the press release.

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo confirmed she will be at the meeting. She said she will advocate for closer monitoring and the creation of physical barriers to mitigate the water’s impact in the future.

“Everyone has acknowledged that there is damage along the shores of Lake Ontario and that Plan 2014 anticipates an increase in the amount of damage over previous plans,” Dinolfo said. “I intend to seek from them, solutions for Monroe County’s shoreline residents and businesses and I will urge those representatives to put pressure on the United States’ appointees on the International Joint Commission to act in the interests of residents and businesses along the southern shore of Lake Ontario.”

The meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. is closed to the press but attendees will be available for comment. Spectrum News has a crew covering the event.

Collins Says McConnell Secretive Health Care Tactic Is ‘Smart Politics’

From the Memo:

U.S. Senate Democrats may be protesting the behind-the-scenes effort of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to garner support for a new health care bill – an undertaking with which even some of McConnell’s own GOP members are none too pleased.

But the GOP leader has the support of Rep. Chris Collins. The WNY congressman said while some may want to see a more transparent process with open hearings, that’s not the reality McConnell faces.

“We can only lose two senators and like we did in the House, we almost didn’t get something out of the House,” Collins said. “I think there was a lesson learned there, so I actually would say politically, and to get this done it’s so important, Mitch McConnell’s doing the right thing even though some would disagree with me.”

McConnell is reportedly hoping for a vote on the yet-to-be-made-public legislation before the July 4 recess. He has pointed out Democrats will have an opportunity to propose amendments to the bill once it hits the floor, though they’ve so far been employing other, procedural tactics to slow the process.

Collins called McConnell’s approach “smart politics.”

“The fact is the opposition is just waiting to go, and the fact is the more information you put out and the sooner it goes out, the more likely the opposition is going out, and the less likely you’re going to get 50 votes in the Senate,” he said.

At a meeting yesterday with the Hamburg Chamber of Congress, the congressman said he also envisions a system that allows people to purchase insurance across state lines. That’s a platform President Donald Trump campaigned on, but was not realized in the House bill.

“That’s what we call this third bucket,” Collins said. “We repeal and replace where we can in accordance with the parliamentarian procedures on a budget reconciliation, which has to have a financial direct impact on the U.S. budget, which selling insurance across the state lines does not meet that. We’ve got the regulatory issue that Secretary Price of HHS can deal with and then there was going to be those other things.”

Collins believes there is enough bipartisan support for an open national market to get at least the 60 votes needed to pass the legislation outside of the budget reconciliation process.

 

 

Collins: Refusal To Do Town Halls Was Never About Safety

In the aftermath of last week’s shooting in Alexandria, Rep. Scott Perry, R-PA, canceled a town hall he had scheduled for Saturday. Other members of Congress have beefed up security at events.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY, doesn’t expect the open format to be very popular moving forward.

“They’re canceling town halls. That’s a crowd you probably can’t control. You’ll probably see very few town halls moving forward,” he said.

It’s not an issue the congressman from Western New York has to consider. Despite being widely criticized by his opponents for it, Collins has refused to host a town hall.

He has had sheriff’s deputies present at events over the last few days, including a veteran’s benefits fair Saturday and a luncheon with a local chamber of commerce on Monday.

“This is how I communicate, with chambers of commerce and schools and I did a business tour earlier today,” Collins said.

The Republican did express safety concerns after the shooting and has vowed to carry a firearm with him to events in his district. He said his decision to hold town halls though, was never about safety.

Rather, he said he doesn’t believe it’s an effective form of discourse.

“I don’t feel vindicated at all. Other members now, obviously, are concerned about the security,” he said. “That would be a forum you would certainly be concerned.”