Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) broke with the rest of Maine’s congressional delegation on Thursday to vote against a Continuing Resolution (C.R.) that will restore the Defense Department’s pre-sequester funding levels thus sustaining vital federal contracts for two of Maine’s largest employers.
The C.R., which was supported by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus S. King (UD-Maine), ultimately passed in the House of Representatives with 318 “yeas”, Michael Michaud (D-Maine) included.
The C.R. contains more than $4 billion for the Navy to purchase up to ten DDG-51 destroyers, ships which Bath Iron Works (BIW) of Bath is currently competing to build. The bill will also provide $150 million to begin repairs on the U.S.S. Miami, a submarine currently dry-docked at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) in Kittery.
Pingree’s vote on the C.R. contrasts sharply with her position as espoused in a Feb. 15 joint letter from her and Michaud to top Congressional leaders. In that letter, Pingree and Michaud urged their colleagues to avoid sequestration cuts and pass a defense spending bill. They wrote, “These cuts will also have a severe effect on the thousands of jobs in the defense supply chain in Maine made up by dozens of small businesses throughout the state.”
The press release advertising the letter, which is available at Michaud’s website, indicated that Pingree, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, had talked directly with House Appropriations Chair Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) about funding for BIW and PNSY.
“Chairman Rogers understood that without new spending authority for the Defense Department, important projects at Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard would be at risk,” Pingree said, according to the release. “He understands the problem and is willing to work across the aisle to fix it.”
In their letter, Pingree and Michaud made direct reference to Rogers’ C.R., writing, “We are pleased that the House Appropriations Committee is preparing a CR that would ensure the Navy will not have to take all of these steps to reduce its funding. We urge you to bring sensible legislation to the floor as soon as possible to responsibly address these looming appropriations and sequester questions and prevent thousands of Mainers from losing their jobs.”
Calls placed to Pingree’s office were not immediately returned.
By S.E. Robinson
Maine Wire Reporter