August 5, 2013

Washington Notebook: Collins criticizes Obamacare in GOP radio address

The senator from Maine pushes legislation to define a full-time workweek as 40 hours.

By Kevin Miller kmiller@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

In years past, THUD bills won easy, bipartisan support from lawmakers hungry for money to fix crumbling roads and deteriorating bridges in their home states.

Speculation abounds about why McConnell wanted to stymie the bill, at least among those who don't believe his budget-related explanations.

The Senate bill was $10 billion larger than a House version that Republican leaders in that chamber pulled from the floor because it lacked the votes to pass. Some suggest it was an attempt to delay work on budget issues until later this fall, when the much bigger debate over the debt ceiling -- and a potential government shutdown -- takes place. Others speculated that McConnell was trying to show some political muscle headed into the August recess and into his own re-election campaign next year.

KING SPEAKS BLUNTLY

Maine Sen. Angus King apparently had some blunt words on the issue of overseas manufacturers.

Speaking before the premiere of a documentary called "American Made Movie," King reportedly said it was "bullshit" that products manufactured in countries with weak environmental and labor regulations could be sold in the United States before raising their standards, according a report by ABC News.

King then went on to say that he would like to see "measurable goals before they get access to our markets," given the economic importance of U.S. markets to exporters.

The documentary features a segment on New Balance, the Massachusetts-based footwear manufacturer that employs about 900 people at three facilities in Maine. Earlier last week, King and Maine Rep. Mike Michaud accompanied the Obama administration's top trade official, Michael Froman, on a tour of New Balance's Norridgewock factory.

The visit was set up to allow Froman to hear directly from New Balance employees who are concerned that the United States will eliminate tariffs -- or import taxes -- on sneakers made in Vietnam as part of a free-trade agreement under negotiation.

King apparently used less-salty language in that public meeting with Froman, however.

CONGRESS TAKES A BREAK FROM ... WORK?

Finally, as Congress heads home for a five-week recess, here's a little factoid to mull over.

In the roughly seven months since the 113th Congress was sworn in, lawmakers have passed and sent to President Obama a total of 26 bills, according to the Library of Congress' bill-tracking service. Some longtime observers have said that could put this Congress on track to be the least productive ever.

Two of those 26 bills were crafted by members of Maine's delegation. King was a key negotiator on the student loan interest rate bill that passed the House last week, while Collins was co-author of the bill exempting air traffic controllers from budget-cutting furlough days. 

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

kmiller@mainetoday.com

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