Susan Collins

Photo by Michael D. Wilson

Susan Collins, Senior United States Senator

By Rachel Hurn

Last year, knowing the catastrophic damage small businesses, nonprofits, and employees faced because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Susan Collins developed the idea of a forgivable loan program to help small businesses survive and continue to pay their employees. Along with three of her colleagues—a fellow Republican and two Democrats—she authored the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which over the course of just a few weeks in March 2020 went from an idea to a massive relief effort. As the virus continued to spread, Collins led a bipartisan group to write a fifth COVID-19 relief law that included a second round of PPP funds. “These forgivable loans served as a lifeline to five million small employers and helped to sustain upwards of 50 million jobs nationwide in 2020 alone,” Collins says. In addition to advancing business aid, Collins convened the first congressional hearing on COVID-19 and nursing homes, ensured that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines didn’t impede access to dental care, and helped pass legislation that delayed reimbursement cuts and made it easier for seniors to access home health care. Collins also joined a group of ten senators, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, who created a landmark infrastructure package that would invest approximately $1 trillion into the United States’ roads, bridges, airports, seaports, railways, water treatment systems, and broadband. “One of the most significant provisions for Maine is the $65 billion investment to expand high-speed internet access to unserved areas of our country, mostly in rural areas, and improve service in underserved communities,” says Collins. “It has become increasingly clear in recent years—and especially in light of the pandemic—that broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity.”

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