Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Collins given Alzheimers champion award

Portland Press Herald - The Maine Alzheimer's Association gave its first ever "Alzheimer's Champion Award" out today to Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins for her work in promoting awareness of the disease.

Sen. Collins is receiving the award during the 2009 Alzheimer's Champions Breakfast this morning.

According to the Maine Alzheimer's Association, Sen. Collins, as a co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's Disease has been "instrumental in efforts to make Alzheimer's disease a national priority."

This is the first time the association has given such an award at a breakfast that is set to become an annual event. If you would like to learn more about the Maine Alzheimer's Association, visit their website,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Senator Collins took part in the Bangor Memorial Day Program at the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor.
During the ceremony, Senator Collins assisted in the presentation of a Bronze Star to WWII veteran Bert Skinner of Belfast.

Senator Collins on WVOM- on Supreme Court nominee

Senator Collins was on WVOM this morning with Ric Tyler and George Hale, below is a clip via

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remembering and Honoring the Women Airforce Service Pilots

Senator Collins' weekly column:

Memorial Day is our most solemn national observance. It is a day of gratitude and remembrance. It is the day when America pays tribute to those who have given their lives in the defense of freedom.

Throughout our nation’s history, brave patriots have answered the call to duty when freedom is threatened. From large cities and small towns, they left the comfort and security of home not to seek personal glory but to serve our country. With quiet courage, devotion to duty, and compassion, they have written a noble and inspiring history.

One of the most inspiring and little-known chapters in this history was written more than six decades ago by volunteers who stepped forward during World War II to serve as Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs. This remarkable band of sisters filled a crucial role during our nation’s darkest hour. More than 1,100 women – homemakers, teachers, nurses, office workers, even a nun – served in the WASPs. Among them was Patricia Chadwick Ericson, a native of Houlton who now lives in Florida. Thirty-eight WASPs gave their lives in that service.

In the early days of World War II, America faced a severe shortage of combat pilots. That, in turn, led to a severe shortage of pilots to ferry aircraft from factories to training airfields and then to the front lines. Women pilots from across America paid their own way to Texas to undergo training and to earn their wings. They went on to fly more than 60 million miles in carrying out this vital mission.

In addition to their ferrying operations, the WASPs performed invaluable service as test pilots. In early 1943, many combat pilots were refusing to fly the new B-26 Marauder, designed to be a fast and highly maneuverable medium bomber. High accident rates, especially during takeoff, had earned this aircraft the nickname “Widowmaker.” Twenty-five WASPs volunteered for training to fly the B-26 and to prove its airworthiness. As a result of their efforts, the B-26, although always a challenging plane to fly, went on to achieve one of the lowest loss rates of any American aircraft during the war.

The WASPs’ service was unprecedented, courageous, and largely unnoticed. Although they received the same training as male combat pilots, these female pilots were denied full military status and were treated instead as civilian government employees. When the WASPs were disbanded in late 1944, they were sent home just as they came – at their own expense. Their service records were classified and sealed, and they received little acknowledgement of their service. The 38 who made the ultimate sacrifice were sent home in plain pine coffins at their families’ expenses. There were no gold stars for the grieving households.

The legacy of the WASPs goes beyond their wartime contributions. After the war, their service and sacrifice were crucial to the successful effort by Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith to secure full military status for women serving in uniform. In the late 1970s, more than 30 years after the WASPS made such a great contribution, women were finally permitted to receive combat pilot training in United States armed forces. Today, women fly every type of aircraft and mission, from fighter jets in combat to the space shuttle. The WASPs helped open the doors to women in the American military, allowing them to serve in nearly every capacity.

I am proud to be a cosponsor of legislation to award the WASPs the Congressional Gold Medal, our nation’s highest civilian award. It is essential that we remember the achievements of these brave women and honor their service.

In one sense, the story of the WASPs is unique. In a larger sense, it is story that runs throughout our nation’s history, the story of ordinary citizens – men and women – answering the call to duty, defending our freedom, and extending the blessings of freedom to others around the world. We remember them with our deepest gratitude.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Morning Sentinel: Mainers mull 'Cash for Clunkers'

from the Morning Sentinel:
Rich Rapisardi drives a 10-year-old Chevrolet Tahoe with 189,000 miles on it and gets 16 miles per gallon.

The Scarborough resident said that although the SUV has been trustworthy, he wouldn't hesitate to turn it in if he was going to be handed $4,500 toward a new vehicle that got at least 23 mpg.

"It's a terrific offer," Rapisardi said.

Rapisardi was reacting to the latest version of the "cash for clunkers" proposal now making its way through Congress. On Wednesday, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., came up with a more rigorous version of a proposal agreed to in the House last week.

The senators say that their version will save even more fuel and cut more emissions by requiring that the replacement vehicle receive above-average fuel economy for its class and the trade-in have a maximum fuel economy of 17 mpg, compared to the 18 mpg proposed in the House.

The senators are pushing their proposal as Congress works to create a vouchers program to entice consumers to trade in their gas guzzlers for vehicles that are more fuel-efficient. The measures are designed to get better cars on the road while boosting auto sales.

The senators say their version would save 11,451 barrels of oil a day, compared to 8,706 barrels a day saved under the House version; and 176 gallons of gas per vehicle a year, compared to 133 gallons under the House measure.

They say their proposal also would cut 1.91 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, compared to 1.45 million cut in the House version.


Press Herald: Defense secretary coming to tour Bath shipyard

from the Portland Press Herald:
It has been 10 years since a member of the president's Cabinet visited Bath Iron Works.

That will end on Friday when Defense Secretary Robert Gates visits the shipyard and spends time meeting with workers and assessing the shipyard's capabilities.

Gates, whose plane will land at the nearby Brunswick Naval Air Station, will be accompanied by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who invited him to the state, and other members of Maine's congressional delegation.

Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe has a scheduling conflict and might not be able to attend.

In a telephone interview Wednesday night, Collins said Gates' visit is important to the shipyard's future because he will have a major say in how many Navy destroyers are built – and where – in the years ahead.

Gates, who has never visited BIW, is recommending in his upcoming budget that Bath build all three DDG-1000 destroyers – the only ships to be built in a new line of surface combatants known as the Zumwalt line – before embarking on construction of more Arleigh Burke destroyers.

Read the whole article >>

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Defense Secretary Gates to visit BIW

from MPBN:
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will be paying a visit Friday to Bath Iron Works. The announcement was made today by Senator Susan Collins. Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee says she's invited the Secretary to tour BIW, and she's "delighted" that he's taken her up on the offer. "This is a great opportunity for Secretary Gates to see first-hand the tremendious work that's done at the yard, to meet with the yard's employees and to better understand the great contributions BIW is making to our national defense," Collins told MPBN.

Collins plans to accompany Gates on the tour, and they will meet with BIW employees and attend a pre-commissioning ceremony for the USS Wayne E. Meyer, built at the Bath shipyard

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Senator Collins supports efforts to raise fuel economy standards

Senator Susan Collins today commended the Administration for its plan to raise the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for all vehicles, including SUVs and sedans. The new rule would raise the average standard to 35.5 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2016.

“I have long supported efforts to tighten fuel efficiency standards in the United States,” said Senator Collins. “Implementing tougher CAFE standards will help enable us to limit our dependence on foreign oil and reduce auto emissions that are a major contributor to climate change. This proposal is the right thing to do for the environment, for the economy, for consumers, and for America.”

Senator Collins cosponsored the “Ten in Ten Fuel Economy Act,” which was successfully included in the 2007 energy bill and would increase CAFE standards for automobiles to 35 mpg by the year 2017.

In addition, Senator Collins has introduced bipartisan legislation with Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that would encourage consumers to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles. Known as “Cash for Clunkers,” their legislation would establish a national voucher program to help enable and encourage drivers to voluntarily trade in their older, less fuel-efficient car, truck or SUV for a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

“Our legislation offers both economic and environmental benefits to the nation by stimulating the purchase of new automobiles and incentivizing fuel savings,” said Senator Collins.

$2.5 million in funding for Northern Maine Regional Airport

U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins today announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded $2,500,000 to the City of Presque Isle for the improvement of taxiways at the Northern Maine Regional Airport.

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

“Maine’s aviation infrastructure keeps its residents connected with the rest of the country and the world,” Senators Snowe and Collins said. “These FAA funds will help northern Maine’s chief airport make the necessary upgrades and developments to improve its air travel services and safety.”

The Department of Transportation (DOT) aims to improve safety, increase mobility in support of the nation’s economy, protect human and natural environment, achieve organizational excellence, and support the national security strategy.

Unity College's presentation of Honorary Doctorate to Senator Collins

from VillageSoup, the text of Unity College's presentation of an Honorary Doctorate for Senator Susan Collins:

If you want to get a great civics lesson and learn about the essence of bipartisanship, take a look at the Web site of Sen. Susan Collins.
Here are some recent headlines:
“Sen. Collins Announces More than $30 Million in Clean Water Funding”
“More than $8 Million in Stimulus Funds for Acadia National Park”
“Sen. Collins Introduces Energy Assistance Act”
“Save the Children Gives Senator Susan Collins its Champion for Children Award”
“Sen. Collins Questions Secretary of State Clinton about Women’s Rights on Afghanistan”

And finally….The Hill, a Washington based political newsletter asked all 99 senators which member of the opposition they most enjoyed partnering with on legislation. Sen. Collins was ranked the Republican senator who is easiest to work with.

Over the past several months, Sen. Collins has taken courageous stands on issues of vital importance, demonstrating the very essence of political ingenuity in a time of polarization and exaggeration. Her leadership in supporting and crafting the stimulus package is well known. She is widely recognized for providing resilient support and leadership on behalf of environmental conservation. Sen. Collins recognizes environmental conservation has a long bipartisan tradition in American politics. By upholding that tradition, she has strengthened the meaning of democracy and is a role model for civic engagement. She understands environmental conservation transcends party lines.

Unity College is delighted to present Sen. Collins with an Honorary Doctorate of Environmental Citizenship in recognition of her fine efforts.

We present this honor not just because of her environmental leadership, or because her office serves her constituents so well. We do so because in times of controversy, Sen. Collins demonstrates that people can work together, that political action matters, that democracy is alive and well. Through her perseverance, her integrity, her ability to see multiple perspectives, and her ability to compromise, she has been a magnificent patriot and citizen, and a model for young people.

We look forward to her continued leadership on behalf of environmental conservation, higher education, and sustainability. We have confidence that she understands the magnitude of climate change and the loss of biodiversity and will do all she can to bring the very best political thinking to these extraordinary challenges.

ARRA: $3 million for rural community facilities projects in Maine

U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Community Facilities program will award more than $3 million in funding for rural community facilities projects in Maine.

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

“USDA Rural Development grants provide opportunities for rural communities across Maine to improve their communities and boost economic growth,” Senators Snowe and Collins said in a joint statement.

The following will receive funding:
• Maine Rural Water Association - $500,000
• Community Concepts, Inc. - $2,655,000
• Friends of Marsh River Theater - $21,000

Through its Community Facilities program, USDA ensures that such facilities are available to all rural residents. These funds are available to public bodies, non-profit organizations, and recognized Indian tribes.

Senator Collins questions top census appointee

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, criticized the bureau's program to develop handheld computers that it planned to give to census workers to take door to door to count households that had not returned paper forms. Census announced in April 2008 that it will not use the handhelds after their development fell behind schedule, ran over budget and did not perform as planned.

"It's really been appalling, after spending literally billions of dollars and much time, the Census Bureau scrapped its plans to use handheld technology for nonresponse follow-up due to significant performance problems and a loss of confidence in its contractors," Collins said.

She asked Groves how he would correct problems associated with the handhelds. He said the IT issues stemmed partly from management issues and partly from an absence of research and development. Groves said he would ask the bureau's top leaders to become involved in all future IT projects.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Senator Collins' Blog: US-Canadian legislators' conference in Quebec

This weekend, along with nine other members of Congress, I was a delegate to a US-Canadian legislators' conference. We met in Charlevoix, Quebec, a beautiful area of bays, mountains, and charming villages along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The area was created by a huge meteorite striking the earth 350 million years ago, or so we are told. When Samuel de Champlain discovered the area, he called the bay "Malbei," meaning "bad bay," because his ship ran aground!

We stayed at the Manoir Richelieu, a hotel that overlooks the St. Lawrence Seaway, a mighty salt water river.

The only disadvantage of the hotel was its very long distance from the Quebec City airport - some two-and-a half hours by bus.

We met with our Canadian counterparts to discuss energy, environmental, economic, border, and national and homeland security issues. I was able to get a resolution passed that is important to Washington County proposals to develop an LNG terminal, which Canada has been blocking by refusing to cooperate in any of the regulatory reviews. The resolution calls on both countries to participate in good faith and expeditiously in regulatory reviews of proposed facilities in their ports. I faced strong opposition at first from some of the Canadians, but revised the language and prevailed after a lot of work.

It was fun figuring out how to put together a coalition of Canadians representing four political parties and ranging from the far left New Democrat Party to the Conservative Party. And I swear it was my ability to speak a bit of French that helped me to win the support of three Canadian legislators who represent the separatist party Quebecois! I had my American colleagues lined up, but since the group will only approve consensus resolutions, I had to get the Canadians too.

On homeland security issues, the Canadians, regardless of party, were upset about some comments made by Secretary Napolitano about the northern border. I will try to straighten this out upon by my return to Washington and prior to the Secretary's upcoming trip to Ottawa.

Another concern of the Western Members of Parliament was our "Country of Origin Labeling" law - known as COOL. This issue turns out to be far more complicated than I had realized for the livestook producers. Apparently, pigs are often born in Canada, then shipped to the U.S. for fattening and eventual "finishing," as the Canadians delicately put it. So the issue arises, are the eventual pork products to be labled "American" or "Canadian?". Are they prohibited when "Buy American" provisions are applied?

By the way, while the lower House in Canada is elected, the Senate is appointed. When a vacancy occurs, the Prime Minister makes the appointment, and Senators may serve until age 75.

We had non-stop meetings on Saturday and finished with a two-hour plenary session on Sunday. Sunday morning, there was an "interfaith" service at the hotel conducted by a nun from Quebec City who drove all the way out to the hotel to conduct the service.

Then after our final plenary session adopting the resolutions, we drove to Baie-Saint Paul, an artist colony about a half hour away from the hotel. Baie Saint Paul is also the birthplace of Circe du Soleil, and prior to dinner, we were entertained by three performers, including a young woman who did an extraordinary gymnastics performance. I think she must have been a contortionist. Her legs twisted into impossible positions, and her feet were as expressive as her hands.

Dinner was at a local bistro with excellent food and a trio of musicians (two fiddlers and one guitarist) who played every possible style of American and Canadian music, often with all of us singing along.

This weekend was a great opportunity to strengthen relationships with our Canadian neighbors and to work together on common issues with our closest ally and biggest trade partner.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Collins and Carper introduce Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act


WASHINGTON (May 12, 2009) - In their continued support of firefighters nationwide, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act today.

This bipartisan legislation would prohibit employers from firing or disciplining volunteer firefighters or EMS personnel who were forced to miss work to respond to a presidentially declared disaster. First responders will no longer be required to make a choice between losing their job and responding to a presidentially declared disaster or emergency.

"This bill is especially important for a state like Delaware that depends so much on its volunteers' services," said Sen. Carper. "These men and women are everyday heroes who should not be punished for bravely answering the call of duty."

"This bipartisan bill is a matter of simple fairness," said Sen. Collins. "The Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act recognizes that our dedicated volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel are critical in times of disaster. By extending some protection to these brave men and women, we can strengthen the protection and life-saving response that they provide to many millions of Americans."

Communities across the country depend on volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services personnel to respond to major disasters. Current law offers these volunteers no protection against punishment by their employers if they miss work when called to respond to a national emergency. This means that firefighters or EMS personnel volunteering their time during major disasters such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina or even the current wildfires in California, can be disciplined or even fired - all while they put their lives at risk to save others.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Collins urges Unity grads to fight climate change

from the Bangor Daily News:
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins preached to an enthusiastic choir Saturday afternoon when she urged the 90 members of the Unity College graduating class to keep on working for the environment.

“Unity grads already know that the key to making a difference is to get involved,” Collins said. “The impact of your actions will make a difference today and for seven generations to come.”

Collins was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony, which school officials said was their environmentally greenest ever — and among the greenest in the country.

In her speech, the senator said that for these students, “sitting on the sidelines cannot be an option.” A group of students planned to present her with a letter advocating action for climate change legislation.

“You must be advocates and activists for the causes you believe in,” she said. “Climate change is the most significant environmental challenge facing our planet.”


Senator Collins with Mitchell Thomashow, President, Unity College

Senator Collins with Tim Glidden, Chair of the Board of Trustees for Unity College

Friday, May 8, 2009

Afghan reconstruction oversight bill passes Senate

Bipartisan legislation that would provide the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) with the authority it needs to quickly hire experienced, well-qualified staff to conduct rigorous oversight of reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan unanimously passed the Senate this week. The legislation was co-authored by Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee Susan Collins (R-ME), Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). The mission of the SIGAR is to conduct audits and investigations of the humanitarian and reconstruction assistance that U.S. has provided to Afghanistan, which currently stands at about $32 billion since 2001, to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.

Original co-sponsors of the legislation also include Carl Levin (D-MI), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Charles Grassley (R-IA).

Although the SIGAR was sworn into office in July 2008, it has not yet conducted any independent audits or investigations. SIGAR has faced difficultly in hiring the auditors and investigators it needs to conduct necessary oversight. Although authorized a total of 18 auditors, 13 inspectors, and three investigators, SIGAR has only five auditors, two inspectors, and one investigator.

“SIGAR’s efforts to quickly hire experienced staff have been hindered by the often long and difficult government hiring process,” said Senator Collins. “The office’s hiring needs are further complicated by the challenging task of recruiting well-qualified staff willing to spend a year in a dangerous environment. This legislation would provide the SIGAR with the authority to select, appoint, and employ the staff needed to perform effective oversight of Afghanistan reconstruction efforts.”

Senator Lieberman said, “This legislation will allow the SIGAR to use special civil service authorities so he can quickly hire the experienced auditors, inspectors and other professionals he needs to ensure that Afghanistan reconstruction projects are progressing efficiently, effectively, and with a minimum of waste fraud and abuse.”

“SIGAR is a vital part of our Afghanistan reconstruction effort, which is about turning the service and sacrifices of our servicemen and women into sustainable and permanent change on the ground. This legislation will help ensure that our reconstruction effort can improve and adapt quickly, just like the enemy we are fighting,” Dr. Coburn said.

The legislation will allow SIGAR to identify and quickly hire candidates, avoiding civil service requirements that are unnecessary for this unique and temporary organization. Employees hired under this new authority can serve until the termination of the SIGAR’s office.

“If the SIGAR would have had this authority from the office’s inception, it likely would be much further along in conducting its oversight work. It is expected that once the SIGAR can quickly hire the skilled and experienced auditors and investigators it needs, the office’s oversight activities will greatly increase,” said Senator Collins.

The legislation must now be passed by the House of Representatives.

Senator Collins introduces bill to regulate Credit Default Swaps

WASHINGTON ¬– Today Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., introduced legislation to give federal financial regulators immediate authority to regulate trillions of dollars in swap transactions that continue to be marketed and traded in the United States without adequate government oversight. The Authorizing the Regulation of Swaps Act would repeal statutory prohibitions that currently bar government regulation of swap markets, including credit default swaps.

“Public confidence in our nation’s financial system has been shaken badly by the financial meltdown,” said Senator Collins. “As a former Maine financial regulator, I am convinced that significant regulatory reforms are required to restore public confidence and to ensure that lack of regulation does not allow such a crisis in the future. The current structure of our financial system lacks much needed reporting and transparency requirements in the swaps market, which many experts believe helped contribute to the current financial crisis.”

Sen. Collins continued: “The consequences in our country have been dire: falling home prices, rising foreclosure rates, plunging consumer sales, increased unemployment, and a tremendous erosion of retirement savings. While local credit unions and small community banks are subject to safety-and-soundness regulation, enormous Wall Street financial institutions that have a far greater impact on our economy have not been subject to such regulation. This legislation would clear the way for federal financial regulators to oversee the swaps market. It is a critical component of the overall reform needed to restore confidence in our financial regulatory system.”

“Multi-trillion-dollar unregulated swaps markets are going full bore without government oversight or authority to protect taxpayers from risk,” said Sen. Levin. “Hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars have already been spent on AIG and others that got in over their head on swaps while regulators’ hands were tied. Taxpayers ended up paying the bill. Our legislation would take the first step to reduce risk by removing statutory barriers and giving federal regulators clear authority to put a cop on the beat in swaps markets. Congress ought to put those cops on the beat right now, without waiting for a possible comprehensive financial reform bill later this year.”

Swaps are typically an agreement between two parties placing a bet on future cash flows. Some swaps bet on whether a stock price, interest rate, commodity price, or currency value will rise or fall; others bet on whether a company will default on payment of a bond. Stock price bets are referred to as equity swaps; bets on whether companies will pay their debts are referred to as credit default swaps.

According to the latest data compiled by the Bank of International Settlements, as of June 2008, worldwide swaps markets included credit default swaps with a total notional value of $57 trillion; commodity swaps with a notional value of $13 trillion; equity swaps with a notional value of $10 trillion; foreign currency swaps with a notional value of $62 trillion; and interest rate swaps with a notional value of $458 trillion.

The bill would remove statutory barriers and allow immediate regulation of all types of swap agreements. The prohibitions to be repealed by the bill were first enacted in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, a complex bill that was slipped into a large appropriations bill, without notice, during the last days of the 106th Congress.

Last fall, then-SEC Chairman Christopher Cox called on Congress to take “swift action” to overturn the legal ban on regulating credit default swaps. Even some past opponents of regulating swaps now support federal regulation. For example, former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Arthur Levitt recently said it was a mistake not to have regulated swap agreements. Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said that derivatives, which include swaps, “create systemic risk.” Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said last October that “serious problems” are associated with credit default swaps.

Top officials in the Obama Administration, including Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, and Gary Gensler, nominee to head the CFTC, have all called for stronger regulation of over-the-counter transactions, including swap agreements.

Sens. Collins and Levin call the bill an “interim measure intended to clear the way for more specific swaps requirements” in financial reform legislation which could come later this year. They note that the bill would not specify how swaps should be regulated, but would simply provide authority to act.

“Taxpayers are now on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts for companies that engaged in unregulated swaps,” Levin said. “This legislation can bring transparency, accountability, and stability to financial markets that are badly in need of all three, and where government oversight is now prohibited by laws proven to have been a mistake.”

Bill Summary

Repeal Existing Prohibitions on Regulating Swaps. The bill would repeal over a dozen provisions in existing law, including in the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000, which prohibit federal financial regulators from regulating swap agreements.

Authorize the Regulation of Swaps. The bill would give authority to federal financial regulators, including bank, securities and commodities regulators, to oversee and regulate all types of swap agreements, including credit default, commodity, equity, interest rate, and foreign currency swaps. Those regulators could no longer use as an excuse for not regulating swaps the prohibitions which exist in current law. The bill uses the same definition of swaps that is used in current law to prohibit swaps regulation, and would authorize federal oversight and regulation of all exchange-traded and over-the-counter swap agreements, without exception.

Require Consistent Treatment of Swaps. The bill does not require federal regulators to regulate swap agreements -- it merely authorizes such regulation and removes the statutory barriers in place since 2000. Nor does the bill provide any direction to federal regulators on how to regulate swaps other than to require them to consult, work, and cooperate with each other to promote consistency in the treatment of swap agreements.

Establish Interim Authority. By removing existing statutory prohibitions and providing federal financial regulators with authority to oversee and regulate swaps, the bill would eliminate harmful statutory barriers, give regulators immediate interim authority over multi-trillion-dollar swaps markets, and clear the way for more specific swaps requirements in subsequent comprehensive financial reform legislation later this year.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Senator Collins calls for tougher punishment for pirates

The Senate Armed Services Committee today heard testimony on efforts to combat piracy on the high seas. The hearing comes less than a month after Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage by Somali pirates who tried to hijack the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama.

U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Armed Services Committee, called for stronger anti-piracy policies and tougher penalties for those who are caught and convicted of piracy.

“Very few of these pirates have actually been brought to justice,” said Senator Collins. “As long as they’re being paid off and there’s little risk of being caught and prosecuted, this activity is going to continue.”

As the Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Collins has discussed U.S. military and anti-piracy efforts with the Commandant of the Coast Guard and with the Chief of Naval Operations. She has called for a collective effort, including a coordinated international naval presence and enhanced security efforts by the commercial shipping industry, to help achieve a long-term solution to this problem.

Today, the Armed Services Committee heard testimony from Michèle Flournoy, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy; Vice Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., USN, Director for Strategic Plans and Policy Joint Chiefs of Staff; Ambassador Stephen D. Mull, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; and James Caponiti, Acting Deputy Administrator of the Maritime Administration,

Collins, Snowe pursue defense, other projects for Maine

from the Portland Press Herald:
Maine's U.S. senators are seeking about $7 billion in funding for defense-related projects in Maine, including two types of aircraft that were not requested by the Defense Department.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins propose spending $3.6 billion to build 15 more C-17 Globemaster III military transports and $2.8 billion to build 16 more F-22 Raptor fighter jets. Both planes have engines that are built by Pratt & Whitney, which has a parts manufacturing plant in North Berwick that employs about 1,300 people.


Monday, May 4, 2009

USAToday: Senators urge more aggressive swine flu screening

from USAToday:
Senior senators criticized the Homeland Security Department on Wednesday, saying it was not doing enough to prevent people infected with swine flu from entering the United States.
Lawmakers at a Capitol Hill hearing urged Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to take stronger steps than those now being used by Customs and Border Protection, who look for people who appear sick as they enter the USA.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, questioned the effectiveness of the observation. She suggested the department join six countries, including Japan and Thailand, that recently started using thermal cameras at entry points to spot people with a fever.

"It's very difficult for officials at the border, who are not medically trained, to do this kind of selection process or surveillance," Collins said. "Other countries are being far more aggressive in their screening."


Bath Iron Works awarded contract for next littoral combat ship

Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that the U.S. Navy has awarded a Bath Iron Works-led team a contract to assist in the construction of the Littoral Combat Ship Coronado (LCS-4). According to the Navy, the contract allows General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works to compete for a contract for work on up to three additional LCS ships.

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

The contract is expected to support jobs for a Bath Iron Works-led team of more than 100 people. Work on this ship, which is expected to be conducted in various locations including Bath and Mobile, Alabama, should be completed by June 2012.

Last month, Senator Collins announced that the Navy has decided that BIW will build the complete set of three next-generation Zumwalt-class destroyers.