U.S. Sen. Susan Collins said Sunday that President Bush had an “impressive” re-election triumph last week, but he will need help from moderate Democrats if he is to move his agenda forward.

The Maine Republican discussed the election, post 9-11 security and gay marriage when she appeared on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“The president’s victory was very impressive,” Collins told host Bob Schieffer. “But the map of the Senate is such that you still require 60 votes to move major legislation. And that means that the president will need to reach out to moderate Democrats for his major initiatives.”

The Republicans emerged from Tuesday’s election with a 55-45 majority, which falls five votes short of the 60 needed to cut off debate.

Collins said Bush’s plan for Social Security reform is an example of where he will need Democratic help.

“If we’re going to do that kind of fundamental reform of an entitlement program, it needs to be bipartisan,” said Collins, who appeared on the program with fellow Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Scarcity of funds in the shadow of a major deficit will also be a major consideration in proposals such as Bush’s trillion-dollar cost of changing Social Security into private savings accounts, Hagel acknowledged.

“There’s no question, we all are now far more limited because of the budget situation than we were four years ago because of the deficits that we’ve been running,” he said.

Collins said she believes it would be a mistake for Bush to intensify efforts to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in light of last week’s elections, when voters in 11 states banned the practice.

“These elections showed that the states are perfectly able to handle this important issue on their own,” said Collins, adding that the 11 states “did that without Congress having to amend the Constitution.”

Hagel agreed with Collins that a constitutional amendment on the issue is not needed.

Meanwhile, a top White House strategist said Sunday that President Bush is serious about banning gay marriage nationwide.

Senior political adviser Karl Rove said on “Fox News Sunday” that a national ban on same-sex marriage is the only way to make sure “activist judges” don’t redefine marriage.

Collins predicted that the White House will become much more heavily engaged in negotiations between House and Senate conferees over legislation to overhaul federal intelligence agencies. A central sticking point has been whether the head of the intelligence agency should have budget authority over all intelligence spending.

Collins, who is co-sponsoring the Senate version with Connecticut Democrat Joe Lieberman, said she’s confident middle ground will be found, “But it is essential that we give budget authority to the new national intelligence director,” she said.

“We’re going to have to compromise on both sides, but I’m convinced we can do it in the lame duck session,” Collins said.

Specter, appearing separately from Collins and Hagel, discussed his pending chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee.


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