When Republican Sen. Susan Collins landed in Bangor, Maine on Friday, a crowd at the airport greeted her with applause.
She was arriving home after a dramatic week in the US Senate, during which she defied her party leadership and voted “no” on all three Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper on Sunday, Collins said she’d never received such a warm welcome in her 20 years serving in the Senate.
“It really was so extraordinary, heartwarming, and affirming,” Collins said. “I got off the plane, and there was a large group of outbound passengers, none of whom I happened to know, and spontaneously some of them started applauding, and then virtually all of them started to applaud. It was just amazing.”
“It was very encouraging and affirming, especially after arriving home after a very difficult time,” Collins added.
A tweeted photo of Collins at the airport went viral on Friday:
Collins said she voted against the bills because they withheld federal funding from Planned Parenthood, and because she didn’t think the Republican plans would provide adequate coverage.
“While I support many of the components of this plan, this approach will not provide the market stability and premium relief that is needed,” she said in a statement on Thursday, encouraging a bipartisan approach.
“The ACA is flawed and in portions of the country is near collapse,” she added. “Rather than engaging in partisan exercises, Republicans and Democrats should work together to address these very serious problems.”
Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona were the other two Republicans who joined Collins in voting against the “skinny” repeal on Friday, sinking Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to overhaul the US healthcare system.
Watch a clip of Collins describing the scene at the airport:
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