Friday, April 24, 2009

Senator Collins announces more than $30 million in clean water funding

U.S. Senator Susan Collins today announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will distribute a combined $30,643,200 to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The funding comes through the Water Quality Management Planning and Clean Water State Revolving Fund programs.

The majority of the funding—$30,336,800—will come from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund which Senator Collins fought to include in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program provides low interest loans for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management. An unprecedented $4 billion dollars will be awarded to fund wastewater infrastructure projects across the country under the Recovery Act in the form of low interest loans, principal forgiveness and grants.

The funding is being distributed to Maine through the ARRA, which Senator Collins, along with a bipartisan group of senators, worked to craft and became law in February.
Senator Collins released the following statement:

“Today is Earth Day—a particularly appropriate time to recognize that the health of our state’s pristine waters is vital concern. This stimulus funding will help create jobs and will provide a significant boost to Maine’s efforts to ensure the continued protection of our waters,” said Senator Collins.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More than $8 million in stimulus funds for Acadia National Park

Senator Collins today announced that the National Park Service will invest more than $8 million in repairs and improvements at Acadia National Park. The funds are being distributed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which Senator Collins helped craft with a bipartisan group of Senators earlier this year.

Specifically, the Department of the Interior says that it will invest $8.3 million at Acadia National Park to:

· Demolish abandoned buildings to restore landscapes

· Perform preservation treatment on roads, rehabilitate roads and parking areas at Schoodic Education and Research Center

· Repair 93 damaged culverts and headwalls on historic park roads

· Replace deteriorated safety and information signs

“Acadia National Park is a true gem of the Maine coastline and one of America’s most beautiful national parks,” said Senator Collins. “This funding will help create jobs in Hancock County while, at the same, time, preserving and protecting Acadia and creating lasting value for the American people.”

As Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Senator Collins, along with Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), is holding a series of hearings to examine how the federal government will account for the billions of dollars expected to be spent over the next two years as a result of the economic stimulus package and help ensure that strong accountability measures are in place and that the spending is as transparent as possible.

The inquiry also focuses on ensuring that appropriate measures are taken to prevent cost overruns as agencies enter into contracts to spend ARRA funds, that strict oversight of contractor performance occurs, that grant conditions are met, a qualified acquisition workforce is in place, and that fraud is promptly prosecuted. The Committee is also looking at the challenges of presenting quick and accurate information about how the funds are being spent so that taxpayers may follow the process and determine if their money is being spent wisely and effectively.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Hill: Collins and Kennedy 'Easiest to work with'

from The Hill:
Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are the easiest senators to work with, while Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) are the most partisan members of the upper chamber, according to a survey conducted by The Hill.

The Hill asked all 99 seated senators which member of the opposing party they most enjoyed partnering with on legislation. The senators were also quizzed (on a not-for-attribution basis) about their least favorite.

Democrats hailed the two centrist senators from Maine.

“They are Republicans who want to get something done,” said Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).
“She’s reasonable, principled and doesn’t get scared off by peer pressure,” Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said of Collins.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Photos from Czech Republic

Entering the Foreign Ministry with Senator Levin and Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Kohout:

Meeting with CSSD Party Chairman:

Meeting with Deputy Minister of Defense Martin Bartak at Czech Ministry of Defense:

With Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Vondra:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Photos: Warsaw Ghetto Memorial

Blog update: Poland

A blog update from Senator Collins:
We arrived in Warsaw late last night via the Polish airline Lot, which I belatedly learned is a regional carrier for the infamous Russian airline, Aeroflot. Met by our ambassador, Victor Ashe, we received our first briefing on the way in from the airport. Among other facts, I learned that 65% of Jewish Americans have roots in Poland.

Today was a very full day, starting with a classified briefing early this morning in Warsaw and ending with our night flight to Prague.

At the Polish embassy, I met two Mainers: Linda White Szczedanska from my hometown of Caribou and Betsy Dorman Taylor from South Portland, proving once again that it really is a small world.

Perhaps the most interesting meeting today was with the Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski, whose American wife, Anne Applebaum, writes a column for the Washington Post. During our discussion of missile defense, he told us of the importance that Poland attaches to having American troops on its soil, preferably through a Patriot air and missile defense system as opposed to the plan for ballistic missile defense interceptors targeted at Iran. Pointing out that this is the tenth anniversary of Poland's joining NATO, the Minister said that it is time for Poland to benefit more from its NATO membership. He reminded us that Poland was one of only three countries to respond to NATO's (and America's) request for more troops for Afghanistan. Since I knew that the Minister had written a book on Afghanistan, I pressed him on what NATO's goal should be and whether more troops really would make a difference. He felt that the Administration's new policy can succeed and that our goal should be "to prevent the bad guys from taking control again."

Another interesting conversation today was with a group of Poles who represented think tanks and other nongovernmental organizations. When we were discussing possible compromises on missile defense, one academic darkly warned that the Russians view compromise as a weakness, that their view was to have the other side cede a position and then give up some more.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Photos from Warsaw

At the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw with Betsy Dorman Taylor (right) from South Portland and Linda White Szczedanska from Caribou (left), who are stationed there:

With Deputy Head of Poland's National Security Bureau, Witold Waszczykowski:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blog update: Leaving Russia

Blog update from Senator Collins in Russia:
A fascinating day of meetings with the Foreign Minister and his deputy for two hours (far longer than usual for a meeting of this sort), with the chairman of the International Relations Committee of the Duma (Russian Parliament,) and with a human rights activist who spent years in a Soviet prison and gave an impassioned speech on the lack of true political freedom in Russia. In addition, we spent considerable time with our ambassador, an impressive career diplomat.

I was struck again today by how much the Russians seem to want a better relationship with us, yet how much a sense of resentment and loss of power shapes their views. They are convinced that the proposed missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic are directed at them rather than Iran, even as they concede that our assessment of the growing Iranian missile capability was more accurate than theirs was.
After the meetings, we took a quick tour of Red Square with its famed onion-domed Orthodox Russian cathedral, St. Basil.

One other observation as I leave Russia: the air pollution and traffic in Moscow are truly horrendous, and people smoke everywhere or so it seems. The average Russian male lives to only age 59.

Photos from Russia

Meeting with human rights activist Sergei Kovalev :

Meeting at US Embassy with Ambassador John Beyrle:

With Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Beyrle:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Senator Collins: Blog update from Moscow

Senator Collins will be blogging during her fact-finding mission to Russia, Poland, and the Czech Republic with Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee:

The American Ambassador hosted our Senate Delegation and four Russians for dinner tonight at the historic Spaso House, the ornate residence of American ambassadors since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries in 1933.

The Russian guests included two foreign policy and security experts, a newspaper editor, and a nuclear physicist who is an expert on nonproliferation. This was our opportunity to talk with Russians who are not part of the government yet know a great deal about foreign and defense policy.

Although they personally seemed to be pro-American, they described a troubling surge of anti-Americanism which they blamed on a host of issues ranging from the proposed expansion of NATO to include Ukraine and Georgia to the American reaction favoring Georgia in the war with Russia to the Bush Administration's plan for ballistic missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic.

At the heart of this long list of grievances, however, seems to be Russia's resentment that it no longer has the special superpower relationship with the United States that it once had.

Collins Heads to Europe for Talks With Russians

from MPBN:
Maine Sen. Susan Collins is headed to Europe for meetings in Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Collins is making the trip with other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Collins says she was invited by Committee Chair Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan to be on the trip, which will include several meetings with high ranking officials in all three countries. She says the meetings with Russian leaders are very important. "I agree with President Obama that we need to 'reset' -- as he puts it -- our relationship with the Russians and that we need to try to have a better, more productive relationship wtih the Russians," Collins told Capitol News Service. "Of course that requires the Russians to want to have a better relationship." On the agenda for the meetings is a European missile defense system to protect it from so-called rogue states like Iran. Collins says one of her goals is to convince the Russians to cooperate with such a move.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Senator Collins welcomes Coast Guard Commandant to Maine

Senator Collins welcomed USCG Commandant Admiral Thad W. Allen to Maine on Tuesday. They toured Bath Iron Works, Hodgon Defense Composites in Boothbay, and the Coast Guard Station in Rockland.
The video below is from their departure at Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head, in a Coast Guard HH60J Jayhawk helicopter.

Monday, April 6, 2009

President's budget calls on BIW to build all three DDG-1000s

Senator Collins urged Administration to fully fund third DDG-1000 to have steady work for BIW

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees, today announced that Bath Iron Works is slated to build all three DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers according to the FY 2010 Department of Defense budget announced today by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

“This is incredibly welcome news for Maine and is a testament to the highly skilled, hard-working men and women at Bath Iron Works,” said Senator Collins. “My goal has always been to help ensure a steady work flow at BIW and a strong industrial base for shipbuilding. That is why I worked hard to convince the President and the Navy to include full funding for a third DDG-1000 in the budget, and I am delighted that they have agreed. The Pentagon's preference to have BIW build all three of the DDG-1000’s demonstrates confidence in BIW and should also stabilize production costs for the Navy.”

"While this strategy depends on the completion of negotiations between BIW and Northrop Grumman as well as congressional approval, this budget is a giant step toward a stable workload for BIW," said Sen. Collins.

As a result of Senator Collins’ work, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee demonstrated strong support for the procurement of the third DDG-1000. However, as the result of a lack of support on the House Armed Services Committee, the FY 09 Department of Defense Appropriations Act only provided partial funding for the third ship. Just last month, Senator Collins wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates reiterating her strong support for full funding of the third DDG-1000.

In addition to advocating for a strong Navy and a stable workload at Bath Iron Works, Senator Collins will be touring BIW with Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the United States Coast Guard tomorrow, Tuesday, April 7.

Admiral Patrick Walsh, Vice Chief of Naval Operations called Senator Collins this afternoon to personally discuss the announcement.

Senator Collins' address to Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs

Senator Collins was the guest lecturer at the biannual Goldfarb Lecture at Colby College on Sunday. The following is a transcript of her lecture, entitled "Policy Making at the Outset of the Obama Administration” :

There are many ways to measure the value of Bill Goldfarb’s generosity and commitment. This event, which brings together students, alumni, faculty, and the community, is one of the best measures.

I am honored to be here at Colby College. I feel a connection to this great bastion of liberal arts in part because of my strong family ties here. My great aunt, known to her fellow students as Clara Collins, graduated at the top of her class in 1914. I keep imaging what it must have been like for her, a girl of 17 in that era, to leave her hometown of Caribou on her own to travel by train to Colby, determined to get a college education. When times were tough and the money ran out, Clara left Colby for a year to work so that she could afford to return to complete her education.

While that is well before the time of all of you here tonight, you may know of her today due to the Clara Piper Professorship and Research Fund. This effort supports scholars in international relations and environmental studies and was established by her son, Wilson Piper, class of ’39, a life Colby trustee and a stalwart supporter of this outstanding college.

My Colby connection also extends to my work in the Senate. I have had several outstanding interns from Colby, and I would like to mention two here tonight. Sarah Whitfield and Megan Dean have served in my state offices and in Washington. Their drive, energy, and commitment exemplify the great Colby traditions of excellence and of service.

And, we have another connection. Colby College is not the only place known simply as “The Hill.” As it happens, I work at another one. So, from Capitol Hill to Mayflower Hill, I guess you could say it’s all downhill from here.

Interestingly, my workplace has a local newspaper named “The Hill,” much like yours here on campus. On January 27th, just one week after the inauguration of President Obama, the “Hill” in Washington ran a front-page story with this headline: “Democrats, Republicans Clash Over Meaning of Bipartisanship.”

The body of the story clearly states the real issue: too often, the meaning of bipartisanship doesn’t depend on your approach to governing, but on whether your party is in the majority or minority.

This sliding definition is not a good thing. Bipartisanship is a principle, and principles do not change according to circumstance. Just as we cannot claim the virtue of honesty if we tell the truth only when it is easy, we cannot call for bipartisanship but really mean that it requires the other side to give in.

I have been in both the majority and the minority. I have worked with Republican and Democratic presidents. I know that bipartisanship is more than a convenience, a nicety, or a clever political tactic. It is essential to solving the major challenges of our era and to restoring the public’s confidence in government.

At the time of President Obama’s inauguration, there was much commentary on the peaceful transfer of power after a heated and contentious campaign. This was nothing new in January of 2009, but it is always a marvel. It is a unifying thread that runs through our nation’s history. It is testament to the wisdom of the founders, to the quality of our candidates, and, above all, to the character of the American people.

These peaceful transitions rely upon a principle that is the foundation of American democratic institutions – that the valid concerns, beliefs, and solutions offered by one party will not be utterly dismissed should that party go from the majority to the minority. A candidate who wins with 53 percent of the vote will not succeed by ignoring or disrespecting the 47 percent of citizens who voted the other way. Our tradition of peaceful transitions usually ensures that political defeat does not mean political exile.

Unlike the European democracies, we don’t have a parliamentary system. We have representative government and a Constitution that ensures that Senate has a different role from the House.

The Senate rules, when followed and not circumvented, are intended to ensure that the rights of the minority are protected. That is why 60 votes are generally required to pass major legislation. It is why the Senate so often operates by unanimous consent on less controversial measures and reaches unanimous consent agreements to structure the debate and amendments on more significant bills.

The Founding Fathers intended for the Senate to protect the minority viewpoint as well as to be a check on the House. James Madison wrote in 1787 that the Senate is to proceed “with more coolness, with more system, and more wisdom, than the popular branch.” My colleagues are fond of a story about a discussion between George Washington and Thomas Jefferson who was in France during the Constitutional Convention. Upon his return, Jefferson asked Washington why the Convention delegates had created a Senate. “Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?” asked Washington. “To cool it,” said Jefferson. “Even so,” responded Washington, “we pour legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”

The cooling impact of bipartisanship is, therefore, much more common in the Senate than in the House due to the differences in their structures, rules, and traditions.

Given the question that Professor Maisel raised in his recent column, which I will discuss shortly, I want to make clear my view that bipartisanship is not just an end result measured by the roll-call vote. It is a process of accommodating minority views, of trying to achieve a consensus, of searching for common ground or at least common goals. The degree to which the minority voice is heard in crafting legislation is crucial. That involvement may not be as readily apparent as a vote tally, but it is essential if the vision of the Founding Fathers is to be realized.
Too often today, bipartisanship is mischaracterized as weakness, as simply going along to get along. Believe me, as one who has forged a reputation for bipartisanship during more than 12 years in the Senate, it is hard work and it takes a thick skin. It is far easier to stake out a position early on and refuse to budge than it is to dig into the issues and find some common ground.
At the heart of bipartisanship is a discipline that is at the heart of a Colby education – independent thinking.

In the Senate, independent thought means looking at issues and evaluating their merits rather than viewing every bill through a partisan political lens. It is a desire to actually get things done, to make progress, to put solving problems above personal credit or comfort. That doesn’t mean abandoning one’s principles, but it does mean not obstructing a bill simply to score political points. The result of independent thinking is that there will be times when I support the President’s proposals and times when I oppose them. I won’t be an automatic vote for either side.

My involvement in leading a successful bipartisan effort to craft an economic stimulus package to boost our troubled economy provides a timely example. Let me spend some time talking about why I decided to work with the President in writing the stimulus bill and how my involvement reflects the approach I take to governing.

Professor Maisel’s recent column on bipartisanship and the stimulus legislation offers a useful framework for this discussion. Professional Maisel raised two questions. First, he asked, can a process be considered bipartisan if it has the support of only three Republicans in the Senate and none in the House? Second, should the quality of legislation be judged by whether it receives bipartisan support?

Let me start with the first question, which has generated much debate. In the House, the process was indeed not bipartisan because Speaker Nancy Pelosi completely shut out the House Republican members. But in the Senate, that was not the case. Republican Senators were not shut out. Indeed, the final tally is somewhat misleading because it does not reflect the broader input from Republican Senators who influenced the content of the bill.

I led the effort to negotiate an improved Senate version of the stimulus legislation because I concluded both that the President was right that our economy needed a stimulus bill and that Speaker Pelosi was wrong in shutting out the Republicans, a process that resulted in a bloated bill festooned with unnecessary spending that had nothing to do with boosting the economy. I also strongly believed that the minority party should have a seat at the table.

My determination to craft and pass an economic recovery bill began with recognizing that the current economic crisis is the most severe since the Great Depression.

On Friday, yet another Maine mill, this one a blanket factory in Biddeford, announced that it was closing its doors. Every week brings another wave of layoffs and plant idlings in our State. Tracking the national statistics, Maine lost nearly 12,000 jobs in 2008, with roughly a quarter of those losses coming just in December. More recently, the national unemployment rate reached 8.5 percent, the highest in 25 years. According to the Federal Reserve, Americans lost more than $11 trillion in wealth last year. Many of us have seen our retirement accounts drop in value by 30 percent.

Behind every number is a hard-working employee out of a job, a family facing an uncertain future, and a community under stress. The collapse of the housing market, the unraveling of our nation’s financial institutions, and the evaporation of trillions of dollars that have been invested in the stock market and retirement funds have caused incalculable harm in every community. Across America, citizens have had to delay their retirement plans because they no longer have the nest egg for which they worked so hard.

And the repercussions go far beyond individual finances. The economic crisis stalls necessary improvements in infrastructure, from transportation to environmental protection. It threatens the existence of community hospitals and the opportunity for a college education for low-income students. It freezes business investments that would create much-needed jobs in our communities.

The wide-ranging negative consequences of the economic crisis require a comprehensive remedy, and I was convinced -- I am convinced -- that an economic stimulus bill needed to be part of the solution. But not just any stimulus bill would do. I was opposed to the House-passed bill and made clear that I would vote against it. That declaration, by the way, prompted the Democrats in the Senate to realize that they could not adopt the Pelosi approach in the Senate if they wanted to get a bill passed. Despite my opposition to the House bill, I felt that Congress had a responsibility to work together to achieve the right balance, the right size, and the right mix of tax relief and spending programs.

The House bill and the first version of the Senate economic stimulus bill were far too expensive and bloated with unnecessary spending for pet projects. The bills had become Christmas trees upon which members hang their favorite programs without regard to whether or not the spending belonged in an economic stimulus bill. While there was some spending that did not belong in ANY bill, some of the provisions were worthwhile, but should have had to compete in the regular appropriations process.

I needed a bipartisan team to tackle the legislation. So I joined forces with Senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska, and together we convened a group of about 20 Senators, centrists from both sides of the aisle.

We were determined to scrub the bill of unnecessary expenditures and boost its investment in infrastructure, a proven job creator. There were three questions that we applied:
Would it help boost our economy?
Would it create or save jobs?
Would it put money in the pockets of consumers?

Throughout the negotiations, the President was also deeply involved. He invited several of us for separate meetings with him at the White House. I have been to the Oval Office many times for meetings with President Bush and President Clinton, but this meeting was entirely different. For a half hour, it was just President Obama and I talking one-on-one about the bill.
I handed him a two-page list of my initial recommendations which totaled about $655 billion. He told me that he felt that a package of that size would be too small to “jolt” the economy and emphasized the depth of the economic crisis, but he did not dispute my assertion that the House bill was larded with wasteful, ineffective, costly spending. In response to his request that I work with his Administration, I told him of the bipartisan group of centrists Senators who were working to scrub the House bill.

Our group continued to negotiate and drafted an amendment known as the Collins-Nelson amendment that pared $110 billion from the bill bringing it to a total of $780 billion and making it far more targeted with robust investments in transportation infrastructure, which would put people to work, tax relief to help middle-income families, and funding for unfunded federal mandates that burden state and local governments. We got the compromise through the Senate.
Then the conference negotiations to resolve the differences between the House and the Senate bills began. They were extremely difficult and lasted deep into the night, day after day. They started with a completely inadequate offer by the Senate Democratic Leader that almost caused the negotiations to collapse and caused three of the Republican Senators who had been involved in the negotiations to walk away. Then the White House chief of staff became involved, and the negotiations become serious, albeit still extremely difficult.

In the end, we settled on a $787 billion bill that is about 36 percent tax cuts and 64 percent spending. It was endorsed by both the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, something that is rare indeed.

As many of my Republican friends here tonight will attest, I have been criticized by some in my party for working with the President rather than just voting no so that a filibuster could kill the bill. “Just say no” is a wonderful slogan when it comes to using drugs, but it falls far short to being a solution to our current crisis.

The bill obviously is not what I would have written if I could have drafted the bill myself, but it represented essential progress on the road to recovery. Although far from perfect, the bill provides tax relief, creates jobs, and addresses the dire economic crisis our nation faces.
Although, in the end, the legislation gained only three Republican votes in the Senate, our version was developed with considerable minority input. There were six, not just three, Republican Senators who were deeply involved in the negotiations until the very last stage, as well as several others who called me throughout the conference negotiations to ask that I make sure certain provisions were included in the final bill.

So my answer to Sandy Maisel’s first question is yes, a bill can be considered bipartisan even if the roll call vote seems to suggest that it barely meets that threshold as long as Republicans are not shut out of the process as they were in the House.

On this issue, I believed that the President was on the right track, and so I worked closely with him. I will continue to support the president when I believe he is right. I have, and will, oppose him, however, when I believe he is wrong.
The most recent example of that opposition is the President’s budget. I voted against his budget because the drastic increases to the public debt it would bring are not sustainable and pose a threat to the basic health of our economy.

Throughout our nation’s history, each generation has made sacrifices to better the lives of the next generation. My fundamental concern with the President’s budget is that it would do the opposite. It asks the next generation – students, your generation -- to sacrifice for us.

The President’s budget projects deficits over the next decade of 9.3 TRILLION dollars. Now I have indicated that I believe spending more money this year and next to help turn around our economy makes sense, but this level of deficit spending, year after year, jeopardizes our long-term economic health and imposes an enormous burden on generations to come.
The President’s budget doubles the national debt in five years and nearly triples it in 10, creating more debt than under every president from George Washington to George W. Bush combined. By 2019, our debt would reach 82 percent of GDP, the highest level since World War II. This crushing debt would make our nation even more dependent on China for financing and threatens the value of our currency and our financial security.

I would not have devoted my life to public service if I did not believe that government has an important role to play in building a fair, just, and prosperous society. But I also recognize the dangers of too big a government, of excessive debt, and of crushing tax burdens.
Let me conclude by answering the second question posed by Professor Maisel: “Should the quality of legislation be judged by whether it receives bipartisan support?” Generally, my answer to question is also “yes.” In many cases, whether a bill receives support from both Democrats and Republicans is a pretty good barometer of its quality.” If a bill cannot attract a single vote from across the aisle, then it may well be of questionable merit, have been jammed through without careful consideration, or be an attempt to score partisan political points rather than crafted to address an issue.

I doubt that anyone in this room could turn to the person sitting next to you and find that you agree on every single political issue even if you are in the same political party. To expect members of the Senate to toe the party line rather than to exercise independent judgment guided by political principles is a recipe for gridlock and division at a time when our nation needs progress and unity.

The challenges facing our nation are great. We will meet these challenges only by embracing the traditions of mutual respect, compromise, and reconciliation that are the true definition of bipartisanship and the foundation of our uniquely American democracy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Senator Collins statement on 2010 Budget Resolution

U.S. Senator Susan Collins released this statement following her vote against the 2010 Budget Resolution.

“I voted against the budget resolution because it projects an enormous increase in spending and would double the public debt in five years. This puts us on a path that could result in adding approximately $1 trillion to the debt each year for the next decade, tripling the public debt in ten years, and producing deficits totaling $9.2 trillion. As a result, our debt would exceed 80 percent of GDP by 2019—the highest level since World War II. In addition, it would increase taxes by $1.5 trillion over the same period.

"While deficit spending is acceptable at a time when our troubled economy needs a boost, the problem with this budget is that it would lead to huge deficits year after year throughout the next decade. That simply is not sustainable and poses a threat to our economy.

“The budget resolution does contain several important provisions that I do support, including an amendment that I authored with Senator Joe Lieberman to provide an additional $550 million for federal agents, investigators, and resources to significantly bolster U.S. efforts to fight violence caused by Mexican drug cartels along the U.S.-Mexican border.”

Senator Collins introduces "Caring for an Aging America Act"

U.S. Senator Susan Collins recently introduced the Caring for an Aging America Act, legislation to ensure the healthcare workforce is prepared to meet the needs of our growing population of older Americans. The legislation was cosponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

“Studies show that more than one quarter of Maine’s population will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030,” said Senator Collins. “Our health care system is already struggling to find and retain qualified workers to meet this growing demand. The Caring for an Aging America Act will help recruit, train, and keep health care workers who are dedicated to providing quality health care for this aging population.”

The Caring for an Aging America Act would provide $130 million in federal funding over five years to attract and retain health care professionals and direct-care workers by providing them with loan forgiveness and career advancement opportunities.

Specifically, this legislation would:
• Establish the Geriatric and Gerontology Loan Repayment Program for physicians, physician assistants, advance practice nurses, psychologists, and social workers who complete specialty training in geriatrics or gerontology and agree to provide two years of full-time clinical practice and service to older adults.
• Expand the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program to include registered nurses who complete specialty training and provide nursing services to older adults in long-term care settings.
• Increase career advancement opportunities for nursing and direct care workers by offering specialty training in long-term care services through the existing Career Ladders Grants Program.
• Create a panel to advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Labor and Congress on workforce issues related to health and long-term care for the aging population.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Navy awards Bath Iron Works $47.4 million contract

Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that the U.S. Navy is awarding General Dynamics a contract with a potential value of up to $47.4 million for work to be done at Bath Iron Works (BIW). This basic ordering agreement is for work that will be completed on DDG 51 Class Destroyers that have completed a shakedown cruise. According to the Navy, the orders to be issued are for engineering support, craft assistance, the ordering and processing of required material in support of PSAs, and the accomplishment of emergent industrial availabilities such as drydocking availabilities.

“This funding is welcome news for Bath Iron Works and its skilled workers,” said Senator Collins. “BIW continues to prove that it is a valuable asset to our national security and I will continue to work with the Navy to help ensure that it continues to be awarded such valuable contracts.”

Work on these ships is expected to be completed by September 2012.

Nearly $20 million in drinking water funding announced

Senator Collins today announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will distribute $19,500,000 in federal Drinking Water State Funding to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.

The funding is being distributed to Maine through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Senator Collins worked with a bipartisan group of senators to craft the legislation that became law in February.

The funding will be used to provide low interest loans for water quality protection projects for wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, and watershed and estuary management.

Senator Collins released the following statement:

“Clean drinking water is vital to the health of any community. This funding will create jobs and help enable Maine’s communities to continue their ongoing work to make needed upgrades to the state’s aging public works infrastructure which will result in a safer, and cleaner, water system,” said Senator Collins.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Senator Collins announces nearly $100 million in single family housing loan funding

U.S. Senator Susan Collins today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will distribute $99,996,518 in federal Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program Funding.

The funding is being distributed to Maine through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Senator Collins worked with a bipartisan group of senators to craft the legislation that became law in February.

The funding is primarily used to help low-income individuals or households purchase homes in rural areas. Funds can be used to build, repair, renovate or relocate a home, or to purchase and prepare sites.

Senator Collins released the following statement:

“During these tough economic times, the dream of homeownership is even further out of reach for many Maine families. This funding will help make the dream a reality and it will also help boost Maine’s slumping real estate market therefore stimulating the state’s economy when it is needed most ,” said Senator Collins.