After an extraordinarily difficult and unprecedented year in 2020, we all hoped that 2021 would bring some relief. Regrettably, the persistent public health and economic crisis has continued to impose serious hardships on countless families. Despite these challenges, however, the resiliency of the people of Maine has shone through. I am so proud of Mainers who have continued to help neighbors in need and make their communities a better place. As 2021 comes to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the areas I have been working on over the past year to help Maine families and small businesses get through this crisis and to serve you in the U.S. Senate.

When the pandemic began, I co-authored the Paycheck Protection Program, which helped small businesses remain afloat and keep their employees paid. In Maine, our small businesses received more than 47,000 forgivable loans totaling $3.2 billion. I also led efforts to provide relief for loggers, lobstermen and bus companies.

In addition, I helped secure $700 million to assist Maine’s overwhelmed hospitals and nursing homes, and a new law I led prevented Medicare payment cuts to help further ease the financial strain on our hospitals. I also urged the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update its recommendations so that our students and teachers could safely return to their classrooms, and I pressed the administration to end the closure of the U.S.-Canada border.

While addressing the pandemic has been a major focus, I’ve also worked hard to ensure Maine’s other needs are met. A group of 10 senators, of which I was a part, negotiated the landmark bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law in November. I co-authored the section of the bill that will provide Maine with as much as $300 million to expand high-speed internet in rural and underserved areas.

Three other bills I led that were enacted this year include laws to address discrimination and violence directed at Asian-Americans; support U.S. officials who have suffered from debilitating injuries likely caused by a mysterious device used by our adversaries, and confront the maternal mortality crisis among our veterans.

Soaring inflation is another crisis, particularly when it comes to the cost of heating oil. I have strongly supported federal programs that help Maine families stay warm. In November, Maine was awarded $35 million to help low-income Mainers pay their energy bills. And the bipartisan infrastructure law included $3.5 billion to help families make energy-efficiency improvements that would permanently lower their heating costs.

As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I have supported investments in Maine’s communities. This year’s funding bills include $265 million I championed for 106 projects across Maine. These projects would help create jobs, improve workforce training, address the opioid crisis and increase access to child care and health care services. In addition, I worked to reverse proposed cuts to our Navy in order to help protect America and keep the skilled workers at Bath Iron Works on the job. The bills also include $475 million for the construction of a new dry dock at Maine’s Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which will allow the Navy to continue to carry out its submarine missions. I will keep working to get these important bills enacted.

No one works harder than the people of Maine, and this year I honored that work ethic when I cast my 8,000th consecutive vote, becoming the only senator in history to do so without ever having missed a roll call vote. The Lugar Center at Georgetown University once again ranked me as the most bipartisan senator, for the eighth year in a row.

In the new year, I will keep working to solve problems and make life better for the people of Maine and America. May 2022 be a happy, healthy, and successful one for you, your family and our state.

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