As shutdown continues, Collins faces his own battles

Jan 6, 2019

The partial government shutdown has entered its third week. Republicans and Democrats are at odds over a number of issues, including funding for a wall along the Mexican border.

Republican Congressman Chris Collins
Credit congress.gov

This shutdown leaves many federal employees without incoming paychecks as well as staff shortages among TSA workers at airports. David Levinthal is the Center for Public Integrity Federal Politics Editor. He said all options to end the shutdown are on the table.

“Really, the question here that is getting asked in Washington, D.C. time and time again over the past few days is, when does it get so bad that it gets to a point where Democrats and Republicans in Congress get together and say ‘alright, we are going to have to hash something out and we’re going to send it to the President collectively, and even if he vetoes it, maybe we’re going to override his veto.’”

Having taken the House in the midterm elections, Democrats have unveiled ethics reforms that aim to curb the influence of indicted lawmakers. What does that for embattled New York Representative Chris Collins, who was indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges last year?

“Number one, the fact that he cannot sit on a committee. That is a very significant part of a U.S. House Members role up on Capitol Hill, here in Washington, D.C. Much of the action that happens in the U.S. House happens at the committee level, or sub-committee level. It’s not just sitting in the U.S. House and voting on votes. It’s a lot of wheeling and dealing that goes on at the lower levels.”

Beyond that, Collins could be looking at even more trouble this year.

“On the House end, there’s going to be a parallel Ethics Committee investigation into him as well and it’s possible that that could come before, or come to fruition, before the criminal trial. It’s possible that it could last beyond that. It’s unclear at this point what the timing is going to be but he’s definitely going to be somebody serving up on Capitol Hill under a cloud of scandal. And obviously under criminal indictment as well.”

Collins has not made many public statements since his indictment. The Clarence Republican is charged with felony insider trading. His trial is set to begin in February 2020.