Entries Filed in 'News from Washington'

Republican Leaders endorse Michaud for gov. and his plans to improve healthcare treatment of Veterans

October 6th, 2014 · No Comments · News from Washington

Congressman Mike Michaud

Congressman Mike Michaud

Anthony Principi, the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs for President Bush, and former U.S. Rep. Steve Buyer, who served as the Republican chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, campaigned today for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud in Lewiston.

The two Republicans endorsed Michaud, the Democratic nominee for governor, as he released his plans for improving state-level services for Maine’s veterans.

Michaud worked closely with Principi to save the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and expand the Defense Finance and Accounting Service in Limestone, both of which were targeted for closure by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission process in 2005.

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Michelle Obama praises Mike Michaud and how much has been accomplished nationally

October 4th, 2014 · No Comments · News from Washington

First lady Michelle Obama speaks to a crowd of over 1,500 people October, 3rd, at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine during a campaign event for Maine's Democratic candidate for governor, Mike Michaud.

First lady Michelle Obama speaks to a crowd of over 1,500 people October, 3rd, at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine during a campaign event for Maine’s Democratic candidate for governor, Mike Michaud.

First Lady Michelle Obama described Michaud as a “decent, honest hardworking man” who is the best candidate for working families. She said:

“I am very proud to be here in support of him. Mike understands what families here in Maine are going through — he knows. And as you all know, the entire time he was serving in your state legislature, he was working on the mill floor at the Great Northern Paper Company. He worked there for more than 29 years. So when it comes to creating jobs and making sure folks get a decent paycheck for their work, Mike understands what’s at stake in people’s lives.

And Mike doesn’t get caught up in partisanship or politics. He was unanimously elected president of the Maine Senate by 17 Democrats, 17 Republicans and one independent. And he worked hard to bring those folks together to do great things for this state like raise the minimum wage, and cut taxes for small businesses, and so much more.

And Mike brought that same spirit to Congress — working across the aisle to improve benefits for our veterans, and promote clean energy, and make sure our military uniforms are 100 percent made here in the U.S., including right here in Maine.”

Mrs. Obama appeared before a fired up crowd of over 1,500 people at the Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine. She was preceded by Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards, and state Sen. Emily Cain, who is running for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District House seat.

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Pingree announces federal grants to rescue stranded seals and whales in Maine

September 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Environment, News from Washington

A humpback whale off the coast of Acadia National Park. A humpback whale off the coast of Acadia National Park. photo by Ramona du Houx

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree announced today that two Maine organizations working to rescue stranded seals and whales would receive federal Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grants through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Though funding for the program has faced possible elimination in the President’s proposed budget in recent years, Pingree has worked tirelessly with other lawmakers to make these grants possible through the Congressional appropriations process.

“It’s important to protect the health of our marine mammal populations because they’re iconic species for our state and a critical part of the ecosystem. When whales and seals end up stranded on beaches or trapped in shallow water, we depend on having well-trained people who can respond quickly and appropriately,” said Pingree. “Two Maine organizations are doing fantastic work in coordinating responses for hundreds of animals a year. They’ve done a great job recruiting volunteers and raising private funds, but the federal government has an obligation to provide support. I’m so glad the organizations will receive these grants to help continue their very important work.”

Marine Mammal Rescue of Maine will receive a grant for $83,878 to support its work responding to marine mammal strandings from Kittery to Rockland. The organization has been under increased pressure since the closing of a marine mammal rehabilitation center at UNE last spring.

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President Obama signs bipartisan Veterans Affairs Bill into Law

August 7th, 2014 · No Comments · News from Washington

US. Capitol on the morning of President Barack Obama's Inaugural of 2013. photo by Ramona du Houx

President Obama signed into law today bipartisan legislation that will address many of the immediate systemic problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs. U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud worked with leaders on both sides of the aisle to finalize the legislation late last month. The new law takes steps to ensure veterans receive care in a timely fashion, and also strengthens accountability and transparency within the Department. It includes a number of provisions from Michaud to benefit veterans in Maine and across the nation.

Michaud, who serves as Ranking Member on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, commented:

“Today represents an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs. The signing of this bipartisan legislation into law is, by no means, the end of this journey. In fact, it’s just the beginning.

“Now is the time for us to roll up our sleeves and get to work on implementing a wide range of reforms within the VA. Veterans deserve timely and high-quality benefits and services. We must change the culture at the VA to one where the needs of veterans are met directly and in a timely manner – and where employees are motivated to always do the right thing. A big part of getting there means increasing accountability and transparency across the Department, and having an assessment of whether VA’s current structure allows it to meet the needs of veterans. I look forward to working with Secretary McDonald over the long-term on achieving a stronger, more veteran-focused VA.”

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House passes Bipartisan Veterans Affairs Legislation with Michaud Provisions

July 30th, 2014 · No Comments · News from Washington

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the bipartisan VA conference report that Rep. Mike Michaud helped finalize over the weekend. Michaud, who serves as Ranking Member on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, worked with Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to reach the bipartisan deal that addresses the immediate problems plaguing the VA system.

“Today’s House vote is an important step toward reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs into an organization that is focused on meeting the individual needs of every single veteran, and meeting them in a timely and responsive manner,” said Michaud. “I am confident that the bipartisan spirit we saw throughout our many oversight hearings on this crisis, throughout the Conference Committee, and on the floor of the House today will carry us forward over the coming years as we dig into the real work of reform. I’m proud that we all came together, worked across the aisle for the best interests of our veterans, and put together a path forward for VA.”

A number of Michaud’s provisions were included in the final conference report. Most notably, Michaud secured the extension of Project ARCH – a program he first worked to bring to Maine in a 2008 bill he helped pass. ARCH serves approximately 1,400 Maine veterans and allows them to receive quality care close to their homes and support networks, at Cary Medical Center in Caribou. Without the ARCH program, many Northern Maine veterans would face a nearly 600 mile round-trip journey to and from Togus to receive care. Prior to Michaud’s work on the Conference Committee to secure a renewal, the program was set to expire at the end of September.

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Maine is leading the way with RGGI- makes it easier to work with new EPA carbon standards

July 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Environment, Healthy Lifestyles, Issue 41, News from Washington, Public Safety, Science

SAPPI paper mill in Skhowegan, Maine, emits polutants. Photo by Ramona du Houx

SAPPI paper mill in Skhowegan, Maine, emits polutants. Photo by Ramona du Houx

Maine has been a leader in clean energy and efficiency, with a plan enacted during the Baldacci administration working with lawmakers. During that time Maine became part of the New England state’s cap-and-trade carbon trade system, know as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, (RGGI).

However, the state is still at the mercy of winds that carry pollution here. That’s why President Barack Obama’s EPA proposal to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30 percent nationally and by about 14 percent in Maine by 2030 is critical. Carbon emissions are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States and power plants account for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

While there are limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are no national limits on carbon pollution levels.

“The EPA’s plan will allow states like Maine to build on the strong work we’ve already been doing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” said Congressman Mike Michaud. “Over the last 9 years, emissions from power plants in the nine states participating in RGGI have dropped by more than 40 percent. That is a very important step forward, and this proposal – when taken with Maine’s cutting-edge clean energy initiatives – positions Maine to be a leader in the clean energy sector. That means more jobs, lower utility bills and cleaner air for all Mainers.”

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$450,000 in federal grants for Houlton and Carrabassett airports

June 25th, 2014 · No Comments · News from Washington, Transportation

The Houlton International Airport and the Sugarloaf Regional Airport are receiving a total of $450,000 in operations and environmental assessment grants. The Federal Aviation Administration is providing $300,000 to Houlton and $150,000 to Carrabassett to assist in the development of new infrastructure at each airport.

“I commend the FAA for providing this essential funding to the Houlton and Sugarloaf airports so they can undertake these needed planning and infrastructure improvement projects,” said Rep Mike Michaud. “These investments ultimately promote air travel across Maine by ensuring that our airports have the resources needed to operate effectively, efficiently, and in an environmentally friendly way.”

Houlton’s grant will fund the construction of a 3,375 square foot snow removal equipment building for protection from adverse weather conditions. In Carrabassett, the funding will be used for an environmental assessment study which will evaluate the environmental and economic impacts related to proposed terminal area improvements.

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Adam Cote awarded Bronze Star Medal for service in Afghanistan

June 22nd, 2014 · No Comments · News from Washington, World News

Captan Adam Cote received the Bronze Star.

Captan Adam Cote received the Bronze Star.

The Maine Army National Guard’s 133rd Engineering Battalion announced today that Captain Adam Cote, a Sanford native, has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Afghanistan. Cote deployed to Afghanistan last September and is due to return home in the next couple weeks.

During the first four months of the deployment, Cote served as Company Commander for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 133rd Engineer Battalion. For the final five months of the deployment, Cote was chosen to be the Company Commander of the 150th Engineer Company. The 150th is a horizontal construction engineering company of approximately 150 Soldiers who fell under the command of Maine’s 133rd Engineer Battalion throughout the duration of the deployment.

“I hand-picked Captain Cote to lead the 150th because of his leadership skills and his ability to get things done,” said Lieutenant Colonel Dean Preston, Commander of the 133rd Engineer Battalion. “He had an enormous amount of responsibility throughout our time here in Afghanistan, yet he rose to the challenge and performed incredibly well. He is truly deserving of this very prestigious award.”

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Congressman Michaud appointed as VA Reform Bill Conferee

June 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Community Maine, News from Washington

Congressman Mike Michaud

Congressman Mike Michaud

U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, Ranking Member on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, was appointed today to serve on the conference panel of House and Senate lawmakers tasked with finalizing legislation to address the systemic shortcomings within the VA healthcare system. The panel consists of six Democrats and eight Republicans.

“Serving our nation’s veterans has been the highest honor of my career in public service, and now we must all come together – Republicans and Democrats alike – to roll up our sleeves and finalize a legislative package that best meets the urgent needs of the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our nation,” said Michaud. “We have a serious task ahead of us, but I am confident that all of us share the common goal of ensuring our veterans receive the dignity, respect and care they have more than earned through their unrelenting service to our country. I look forward to working with my colleagues in finalizing a legislative package that substantively addresses the systemic failures plaguing our VA system, puts an infrastructure in place so that they never recur, and lay out a road map for how our VA can deliver high-quality, timely, convenient care to every single veteran it serves moving forward.”

Michaud has voted for a number of bipartisan bills aimed at strengthening accountability and improving performance within the VA. Michaud supported H.R. 4031, bipartisan legislation that would make it easier to remove poorly performing VA executives; as well as H.R. 4810, which would make it easier for veterans not receiving timely care within the VA to get access to non-VA care.

Michaud also has called on President Obama to enact key provisions from his own legislation, H.R. 4399, via executive order. Michaud’s legislation would not only hold an even larger swath of VA executives accountable for performance, but it would establish patient goals and outcomes for ensuring veterans are receiving quality care.

In addition to legislative action, the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee is continuing to hold a series of oversight hearings into the matter. In fact, the committee has held more than 90 hearings this past Congress – more than 50 of which involved oversight.

The Senate passed VA reform legislation last week. Michaud and his other conferees will now work on reconciling a final bill for approval before heading to the President’s desk for signature into law.

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Congressman Michaud’s ARCH, Veteran’s healthcare program, highlighted in latest VA hearing

June 18th, 2014 · No Comments · News from Washington

Congressman Mike Michaud in D.C. photo by Ramona du Houx

Kris Doody, CEO of Cary Medical Center in Caribou, appeared before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee today to update lawmakers on the successes of Project ARCH and the need to secure an extension to fund the program that provides healthcare to veterans who live in northern Maine.

Congressman Mike Michaud included the program in a 2008 bill he helped pass, bringing ARCH to Maine and providing high-quality healthcare to veterans in or near their local communities. For many veterans in northern Maine, it’s a nearly 600 mile round-trip journey to Augusta.

“I was pleased that Kris Doody had the opportunity to join our committee today and share the successes of the ARCH program with Members of Congress. I firmly believe that Project ARCH can offer us insightful guidance as we look for national solutions to the VA crisis,” said Michaud. “I’m proud of Project ARCH, and I continue to hear from so many veterans all across The County who have been able to receive high-quality medical care, close to the comforts of their family and friends, because of ARCH. I won’t stop working until the VA commits to officially extending this critical program.”

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