Friday, April 18, 2014
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.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Maine Rep. Mike Michaud, D-District 2, was recently part of a panel of Democratic lawmakers who bashed the Trans-Pacific Partnership on MSNBC, underscoring one of the big challenges facing President Obama as he tries to finalize the massive free trade deal.
The group appeared in a 17-minute segment on MSNBC’s The Ed Show that was critical of the TPP, a trade pact between the U.S. and roughly a dozen other countries largely located in the Asia-Pacific region. Despite the one-sided nature of the segment, the TPP has strong support in many business segments.
A federal spending bill unveiled Monday night includes $100 million necessary for the Navy to move forward with a contract on an additional Maine-built destroyer.
The money will help the Navy close a funding shortfall for an Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyer caused by last year’s across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. Bath Iron Works, which is owned by General Dynamics, received a contract last summer to build four DDG-51 destroyers with an option for a fifth if Congress and the Navy can find additional funding.
Members of Maine’s delegation worked to include the funding in the omnibus appropriations bill that provides a program-by-program accounting of roughly $1 trillion in spending during the current fiscal year. The $100 million does not close the entire shortfall – estimated at more than $300 million – but will allow the Navy to exercise the option on the fifth ship.
“This funding is critical, and that is why I fought so hard to see that the money is included in the final bill,” Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican who serves on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement. “I spoke with Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Sean Stackley, last week, and he said the Navy is prepared to sign the contract option once the $100 million is made available.”
WASHINGTON – Members of Maine’s delegation are vowing to oppose legislation that would fast-track international trade agreements through Congress.
The Obama administration is finalizing negotiations on a new free-trade deal – known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP – that would eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers among the U.S. and roughly a dozen nations, most in the Asia-Pacific region. Additionally, the administration is in early discussions on a free trade deal with European Union nations.
On Thursday, a group of lawmakers introduced a bill that could be critical to the TPP’s fate. The bill would grant President Obama “trade promotion authority,” which is Washington-speak for bypassing the political tangles that can delay or scuttle free-trade deals.
WASHINGTON – Members of Maine’s congressional delegation are continuing to push for a $100 million inclusion in the federal budget to help close a funding shortfall for a destroyer to be built at Bath Iron Works.
Last summer, the Navy awarded BIW a $2.8 billion contract to build four Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyers through fiscal year 2017. A contract for an additional five ships was awarded to Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., the competing shipyard to General Dynamics-owned BIW.
The Navy included an option for a fifth ship at BIW – valued at roughly $700 million – contingent on Congress and the Pentagon finding about $300 million that the Navy said was lost as a result of the sequestration budget cuts.
WASHINGTON – Blaine House hopeful Eliot Cutler has a word for the two-party system that he argues is poisoning the political process: duopoly.
And if Cutler’s comments at a Washington panel discussion on Thursday were any indication, Mainers can expect to hear a lot more about this alleged Democratic-Republican stranglehold during the next 11 months.
“In America today we have a duopoly – literally, a duopoly in our political system – and enormous amounts of voters are disenfranchised,” Cutler said as part of a panel discussion on political polarization held at New York University's Washington, DC, academic center. “And I have never seen a duopoly that wants to reform the system of which it is a part because they’re doing well and the public interest isn’t their principle concern.”