Tuesday March 01, 2011 | 05:00 PM

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st,  Tuesday asked the top Navy official to make federal funding available for improvements the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. Pingree queried Navy Secretary Ray Mabus during a hearng of the House Armed Services Committee on which she serves.

A defense bill approved last year by the House, but not by the Senate, included $12 million in federal funds earmarked by Maine and New Hampshire lawmakers for the shipyard improvements. Earmarks are banned this year by congressional leaders, but Pingree said the Navy should still come up with the money.

Since Congressional leaders are not including these kind of funding requests in budget bills this year, Pingree is asking the Obama Administration to find other ways to fund the Portsmouth shipyard project.

 Mabus said the Navy will take a "close look" at the issue.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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