Chris Collins

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.”

Cuomo On Collins Carrying: ‘It Should Concern Everyone’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, insinuated political rival Rep. Chris Collins is full of you-know-what in calling for both sides to tone down the political rhetoric. Collins, earlier this week, told the governor’s brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, after some reflection, he was trying to change the direction of the national conversation, including the things he says.

Andrew Cuomo isn’t buying it.

“This from a person who uses all sorts of terrible names at me personally,” the governor told reporters in the Finger Lakes region on Friday.

Cuomo said Collins, one of the president’s top supporters, not only has contributed to the current political environment, he continues to. The governor criticized the decision and announcement by Collins that he would carry a firearm to public events moving forward.

“It should concern everyone,” Cuomo said. “No, the answer isn’t carry a gun. The answer is tone down your rhetoric and act like a leader, and bring people together, and stop fanning the flames of hate. That’s the answer. The answer is create an atmosphere where you don’t need a gun.”

Collins and Cuomo have most recently argued publicly about the congressman’s amendment which would move Medicaid costs from the county to the state.

“It’s sad that while most leaders are trying to leave behind incendiary rhetoric in a time of unity, Andrew Cuomo just can’t help himself. One can see everyday how much his caustic language and inflammatory attacks polarize the people of our state. We can disagree and still leave behind the derogatory name calling that the Governor continues to embrace,” Collins spokesperson Sarah Minkel said.


Chris Collins On CNN: ‘I Did Lash Out’

Western New York Congressman and Trump surrogate Chris Collins said the tone he took during interviews shortly after an attack on his Republican colleagues. Collins, during an appearance on CNN’s New Day, told Chris Cuomo his emotions got the best of him.

“I think in that emotion, I did lash out and it would certainly appear that this individual, the anger was certainly tied into the rhetoric going on. So I did say what I said, that I was putting the blame on the Democrats doorstep and then after, you know, the emotion of that instance wore off, an hour or two later, I looked in the mirror and I said that’s not the right tone. I’m going to do what I can to help reverse this, the anger and the discourse,” he said.

During early interviews, Collins said he believed the shooting during a practice for a charity baseball game was politically motivated, but admitted Thursday to Cuomo, what triggered the attack is still not clear.

“I’m willing to admit that was wrong for me to say. That would actually be going in the wrong direction and I myself am going to try to tone down some of my rhetoric and I would invite my Democrat friends, and they are friends to do likewise.”

Collins did express the same sentiment in a statement Wednesday, after his initial interviews. He called on the electorate to take his advice, as well.

“I think also, some of us reacted to the threats that continue to come into our office, organized Die-Ins at our office and I hope some of that, especially the Die-Ins, that they just go away,” he said. “That’s just not appropriate.”

The congressman admitted the past six months has been very polarizing but said Republicans and Democrats did discuss moving forward more civilly, during a joint conference yesterday.

Rep. Collins Taking Steps To Ensure Safety

From the Memo:

For Western New York Congressman Chris Collins, R-NY-27, Wednesday’s attack on congressional Republicans, practicing for charity baseball game, was a wake-up call. Collins expressed his support for Majority Whip Steve Scalise who was shot at the hip, but at the same time noted things could’ve been even worse if he weren’t there.

As Whip, Scalise is one of three House Republicans who travels with a security detail. The two Capitol Police with him, who were also injured, stopped the attacker.

“Absent them being there, there would’ve been many deaths. It probably would’ve been the worst mass shooting in congressional history because our members were huddling in a dugout unprotected with their kids,” Collins said.

The congressman said he and his colleagues will no longer take their personal security for granted anymore. If a group of members plan on going off the capitol complex, he said they should request officers with them.

Collins said he will take similar precautions in his district. The Republican said when he has held large gatherings in the past he has already called the sheriff’s office for support but plans to do that for smaller events moving forward.

That’s not all. Collins said he is considering moving one of his satellite offices in Geneseo to the Livingston County Office building because he can’t reasonably secure the small storefront.

Finally, he made headlines Wednesday by saying he plans to carry a handgun with him in public. The congressman clarified that he has had a carry permit for decades but has been lax about having the firearm on his person.

“This certainly heightened my awareness and for my safety and for the safety of those around me,” he said. “I will make sure I am carrying where appropriate. I’m not going to be carrying a pistol in to a school or anything like that, but where appropriate, yea I absolutely will.”

Western New York Democrat Brian Higgins said if his colleagues feel unsafe, that’s their right, but he doesn’t feel the need to carry a weapon with him in public.

“We have great law enforcement resources both here in Washington and in Western New York. I feel very safe among the people I represent because I’m one of them,” he said.

Collins, one of the president’s biggest supporters, believes he could be a target though, because of the current political climate. He said he’s not alone and that several of his colleagues are signing up for pistol training and will be pursuing their concealed carry permit.


Slaughter Takes Aim At Collins Again Over Stock Allegations

From the Memo:

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY-25, is pushing hard for an investigation into what she calls a “major stock trading scandal” among House Republicans. Slaughter has asked the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate allegations of insider trading connected Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27.

The renewed push from the congresswoman comes in response to a report from The Hill that Collins urged a number of his colleagues to invest in Australian bio-medical company Innate Immunotherapeutics. The piece cited several unnamed lawmakers.

Slaughter said it bolsters growing allegations that Collins used public-funded resources to enrich himself and others.

“The story today is truly shocking and makes it clear that some members of Congress are embroiled in a major stock trading scandal that violates the public trust and likely the law,” she said.

Collins, one of the president’s top supporters in Washington, has become a target of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and, more recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, and the New York State Democratic Committee.

“Instead of apologizing to his constituents for coming under a House Ethics investigation for potential insider trading and abuse of office violations, Collins has spent his time in Washington – when he’s not voting to cut healthcare coverage and raise taxes for millions of New Yorkers – bragging to anyone who will listen about how much money he’s made for himself and other members of Congress on this insider deal. No Chris, you’re not Gordon Gekko, and greed is not good, especially when it comes at the expense of the people you were chosen to represent, NYS Dem Executive Director Basil Smikle said.

Collins camp has insisted and continues to insist that he followed all legal and ethical rules. The congressman also has not denied talking about the company he’s been involved with for years.

“Without the Congressman’s substantial investment over the years, this life saving drug may never have made it to this point,” new spokeswoman Sarah Minkel said.

“Anyone who makes investments such as this one, does so with risks, making it a very personal decision.  While Congressman Collins has taken that risk with his own investment, he would never urge anyone else to take that same risk.”

Great Lakes Funding Still Not In Trump Budget

From the Morning Memo:

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative remained a casualty of President Donald Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget, released Tuesday.

Trump’s plan does not include any funding for the program which helps to clean up pollution, fight invasive species and preserve wetlands.

Over the past several years it’s received about $300 million annually. Not-for-profit Citizens Campaign for the Environment criticized the proposal while pointing out Congress rejected less drastic cuts to the program just weeks ago.

“From keeping Asian carp out of lakes, to restoring critical habitat, to cleaning up the Buffalo River, the GLRI has been a game-changer for clean water and Western New York’s economy. It’s easy to understand why the Great Lakes have resounding bipartisan support in Congress. Yet, if the proposed cuts were adopted, progress to restore the lakes would be stopped dead in its tracks. We are counting on Congress to stand up for the Great Lakes yet again, because none of their constituents voted to make Lake Erie dead again,” Executive Director Brian Smith said.

In fact, Western New York Congressman and Trump supporter Chris Collins has repeatedly promised to defend the program since the cuts became apparent in the initial proposal in March. He did again Tuesday.

“As I said before, Congress will have vital say in this budget process and my top priority is always about fighting for my constituents. I am committed to protecting programs like NIH funding, Community Block Grants, Meals on Wheels, Great Lakes funding, among others, that play an important role in strengthening our community,” he said.

Still, Collins said the president’s budget shows a commitment to balancing the budget over the next decade, shrinking government and cutting taxes.

“As we focus on creating jobs, reducing the national debt, and keeping Americans safe, it is clear that difficult decisions will need to be made. Ultimately, it is up to Congress to make these funding decisions. My constituents know that I will continue fighting for their best interests above all else,” he said.


Turn NY-27 Blue Coalition Says Effort So Far A Success

From the Morning Memo:

The Democratic coalition aiming to unseat Western New York congressman and Trump surrogate Chris Collins says its making good progress in recruiting a candidate to challenge him next year.

A spokesperson for Turn NY-27 Blue said ten people have already applied.

The coalition consists of the eight Democratic county chairs within Collins district. There are also a number of grassroots organizations participating in the search.

Livingston County chair Judith Hunter said seven of those candidates interviewed with members last week. What we don’t know yet are who those people are.

Hunter said the coalition intends to let people who want to challenge Collins announce their candidacy on their own time. She said the interested parties are a mix of political newcomers and better known names.

Despite the progress, Erie County Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy said he doesn’t think Turn NY-27 Blue represents the prevailing opinion of most of the district’s constituents.

‘”It’s really just people that don’t want to let last year go,” Langworthy said.

The GOP chalked up the effort to Washington, D.C-types trying to manufacture a race against a popular congressman who’s handily won his last two races in a heavily Republican district. Still, Langworthy admitted Collins will probably face a stiffer challenge, at least in terms of the money spent to unseat him, next year.

“He had nominal opposition the last several elections. I expect that there will be much more expenditure against Chris Collins, just given the symbolic nature of his leadership with the president,” he said. “I don’t know that that means he’s going to have to change ore retool everything. I guess he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it. If he has to, I know he will.”

There had been some speculation that Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was being recruited to run against Collins but earlier this month she said she had no intentions of seeking a rematch against the congressman to whom she lost a close race in 2012.

Opponents Of Rep. Collins Post New Billboard In WNY

Critics of Rep. Chris Collins, R-27th District, have posted another billboard announcing their displeasure with the congressman from Western New York.  The digital sign which reads “Chris Collins To WNY-ers: Drop Dead” went up Monday at a busy intersection in the town of Hamburg. Drop Dead Billboard

It said it was paid for by Michelle Schoeneman, an active member of Citizens Against Collins. That group was behind a billboard criticizing Collins in February for not holding a town hall meeting with constituents.

Schoeneman said this time she paid herself and raised the money retroactively on GoFundMe because she wanted to react quickly to the congressman’s vote last week in favor of the American Health Care Act.

“By voting YES on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Mr. Collins effectively told his constituents that it does not matter to him whether or not they can afford to purchase health insurance. Premiums for people with pre-existing conditions will skyrocket and price them out of the market,” she said. “Seniors will be charged up to five times more for coverage. In addition, rural hospitals are at risk of closing under the new plan. Without access to a hospital or affordable coverage, people will die right here in his district. This is unacceptable and demonstrates his lack of concern for those he serves so, in essence, he is telling us to drop dead.”

Schoeneman said she was able to raise money so quickly that she decided she will leave the sign up for two weeks instead of one. She said more and more people are losing patience with the Republican.

“The first campaign was tremendously effective,” she said. “It shined a spotlight on Collins’ lack of accountability to his constituents, and led to Collins being asked on CNN to explain why he won’t hold town halls. My group was flooded with new members after the billboard, and people were clamoring for another.”

A spokesperson for the congressman said Collins campaigned on the promise of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and he is following through with that.

“One thing is clear, the more Congressman Collins delivers real results for the silent majority in New York 27th, the more desperate and ridiculous the extremist minority’s actions become,” Chris Grant of Axiom Strategies said.


Rep. Collins Calls Cuomo A ‘Bully’ An ‘Extortionist’ And A ‘Blackmailer’

Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY, criticized the governor following a press conference in Depew today, for suggesting part of the difficulty with the budget this year was uncertainty with the federal government. Gov. Andrew Cuomo specifically pointed to the potential impact of the so-called Collins-Faso Amendment earlier this week.

“The audacity of him saying, I can’t get a budget passed because something might happen six months from now with a federal budget is called kick the can, point a finger, place blame. I’d say to Governor Cuomo, look in a mirror. There’s only one person to blame for the budget being late and sir, it happens to be you,” Collins said.

When asked about the governor’s concern over having to bring legislators back for a special session if there were a shortfall, Collins said Cuomo was exaggerating. For instance, he said if his amendment to shift Medicaid costs from the county to the state, were part of new healthcare legislation, it would only require the governor to find 1.5 percent savings in the budget.

Collins called it the most bloated budget in America and claimed he could find billions of dollars in savings if he were asked.

“All this governor is doing is what he does. He overstates it. He’s a blamer. He’s blaming his incompetence on anything he can and now it’s the Collins-Faso amendment, which by the way would fix county budgets in New York for the next five decades,” Collins said.

The congressman said Cuomo is attempting to use the budget to sneak in legislation on policy and give himself unilateral authority over economic development dollars.

“Let’s call it out for what he is. He’s a thug. He’s a bully. He’s an extortionist. He’s a blackmailer. He wants all the authority,” he said.

UPDATE: Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul responded on behalf of the administration Wednesday afternoon.

“Once again, inside trader-turned Beltway insider Chris Collins has difficulty telling the truth. Collins cynically sold out his constituents and continues to try and slash their healthcare, raise their taxes and threaten New York’s finances in order to fund a bloated defense budget. New Yorkers aren’t stupid and he’s fooling no one,” Hochul said.