WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree says allowing school districts to opt out of serving ammonia-treated ground beef filler known as “pink slime” isn’t good enough.

Pingree, D-1st District, wants the Obama administration to ban the product from being served in schools. She is a member of the House Agriculture Committee.

“This really shouldn’t be complicated,” Pingree said last week in a statement. “What we really need is an outright ban on serving ‘pink slime’ in school lunches and I doubt you’d find too many families in America who think their kids need to have the option to keep eating the stuff.”

In a letter last week to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack calling for the ban, Pingree said, “It’s wrong to feed children a slurry that was formerly only used for dog food.”

Pingree’s stand has drawn national attention, including from MSNBC.

MSNBC host Chris Jansing read the above passage from Pingree’s letter to Vilsack and concluded: “How do you argue with that?”

COLLINS NO FAN OF ‘NO PAY’

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is no fan of the No Budget No Pay proposal.

Collins is the top Republican on the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which held a hearing last week on congressional reform proposals.

Included was the No Budget No Pay measure, which seeks to withhold lawmakers’ paychecks if budget and spending bills aren’t finished by Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year.

Collins said at the hearing that she understands the public’s frustration with Congress. Collins said she favors some reform ideas, including passing two-year budgets that would allow more congressional oversight of how taxpayers’ money is spent.

But Collins said the power to craft and pass a budget is “not equally shared by all members, no matter how forcefully those of us who are not in leadership may advocate for a budget.”

Two Maine members of Congress are among the 34 in the House and seven in the Senate sponsoring the No Budget No Pay bill: GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe and Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud of the 2nd District. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, isn’t a co-sponsor, but her spokesman said Pingree would vote for the bill if it reaches the floor. 

COLLINS GETS ENGAGEMENT PARTY

Sen. Susan Collins’ fellow lawmakers threw her an engagement party last week, with the event temporarily halting work on a $109 billion transportation bill.

The Maine Republican announced her engagement last month to Thomas Daffron, the chief operating officer of a D.C.-based consulting and lobbying firm.

Lawmakers were probably relieved to escape the Senate on Tuesday evening for the party. They had been slogging through some 20 amendments to the transportation bill that day. The transportation bill didn’t get held up long — it passed overwhelmingly on Wednesday.

ANGUS KING NAMES TWO TOP AIDES

Independent U.S. Senate candidate Angus King last week named Kay Rand to be his campaign manager. Rand was King’s chief of staff during his two terms as Maine governor.

Also last week, King named public relations executive and former journalist Crystal Canney as his campaign’s communications director. Canney also was communications director for former Gov. John Baldacci during part of the Maine Democrat’s tenure.

MaineToday Media Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at:

jriskind@mainetoday.com

Twitter: Twitter.com/MaineTodayDC