As the 2014 gubernatorial campaign heats up, political parties, politicians, political action committees and even anonymous Twitter accounts are making all manner of claims about their favorite — and no so favorite — candidates. But one claim deserves some further scrutiny.
The Maine Republican Party is claiming that U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, the Democratic candidate for governor, has never managed to get a bill passed throughout his 12 years in Congress. Put differently, they claim Michaud has never introduced a bill which subsequently became law.
Here’s an example of that talking point in action from former Republican state senator Debra Plowman’s latest Bangor Daily News column:
Throughout 12 years in Congress, Michaud has failed to get a single bill passed into law; in fact, he hasn’t even gotten one of his bills a vote in the Senate. However, considering his bills often involve things like naming post offices after politicians andbanning novelty lighters, it’s unclear whether Michaud’s inability to garner support for his ideas would have made much of a difference.
If true, this is a pretty shocking fact about Michaud’s tenure in Congress.
The Maine Wire reached out to Michaud’s congressional office to see what they had to say.
The answer? Michaud has had a number of bills the he authored passed into law, but he can’t really prove it because, well, politics is like sausage making.
Here is the response from Michaud’s communications director in full:
Congressman Michaud has had a number of his bills that he authored passed into law.
More often than not in the House, bills are introduced and passed, and then either bundled into larger legislative packages with other bills, or added on as amendments to other pieces of legislation. That is the quickest way to move multiple bills in what can be a crowded legislative environment. In that process, bill numbers change and evolve. I hope the nature of this process would be the one and only reason why some in the GOP would be confused and feel comfortable enough to make such claims.
Below are some examples of bills that Rep. Michaud authored that later became law. They range from allocating resources for caretakers/families of veterans, to ensuring state veteran homes can continue delivering care to veterans, to ensuring veterans in Maine have access to high-quality and local healthcare, to creating the Northern Regional Border Commission (and securing subsequent funding on it).
Of course, passing laws isn’t the only way to drive change. I’ve included at the bottom of this email a link out to all of his advocacy work – both administratively and legislatively – on the Berry Amendment. As you know, his ongoing work on that culminated in DoD announcing in April that they would take steps to ensure servicemembers wore American-made shoes. That is an issue on which the Congressman introduced legislation but also engaged in relentless advocacy within the administration.
All of this, of course, should be taken in the context of our political environment as well: the Congressman has a pretty strong track record – and very good bipartisan working relationships – especially given that we have been in the minority for most of his time in the House.
Here are some examples of bills the Congressman authored, introduced and eventually had signed into law:
The CARE Act for Veterans and their Caregivers: Michaud authored H.R. 3155 – the Caregiver Assistance and Resource Enhancement Act. The CARE Act passed the House and was referred to the Senate, eventually becoming a part of S. 1963 – the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act.
This was signed into law May 5, 2010, and Rep. Michaud attended the bill signing. Michaud’s CARE Act, now law, provides support services to veterans and their family/caregivers, including:
education sessions for improved care giving
counseling and mental health services
respite care for family and other caregivers of all veterans
health care and a stipend for caregivers living with severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan
The VA began implementation of Michaud’s CARE Act in 2011.
H.R. 2530, a bill requiring the VA to reimburse state veterans homes for the care they provide to veterans – ensuring vets could continue to receive the care and services they need. This bill was rolled into H.R. 1627, which ultimately became law. Michaud’s bill helps state veterans homes in Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Scarborough, South Paris, and Machias. His floor remarks on the legislation are available here: http://michaud.house.gov/sites/michaud.house.gov/files/documents/HR1627StateVeteransHomes.July.31.2012.pdf.
H.R. 1627 became law on August 6, 2012.
Improving access to care for Maine veterans: Michaud brought the ARCH program to Maine – which allows for veterans in rural areas in the northern part of the state to avoid the nearly 600 mile round-trip down to Togus – by including it in a 2008 bill, that was ultimately rolled into the Veterans’ Mental Health and Other Care Improvements Act of 2008. ARCH began at Cary Medical Center in 2011, and Michaud is currently advocating for the program’s extension.
The final version of this bill that passed Congress, S. 2162, became law on October 10, 2008.
And in 2006, Rep. Michaud authored a provision of Public Law 109-461, which directed the VA to develop a business plan for enhanced access to outpatient care for Maine veterans. As a result, Michaud was able to work with the VA and Maine veterans to bring Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) to Lewiston and Bangor, and a new health care access point to Houlton. These facilities provide veterans with common health services in or near the communities where they live.
Creating the Northern Regional Border Commission: The bill Michaud authored to create a Northern Regional Border Commission (NRBC). NRBC is charged with investing in the economic development of the most economically distressed areas of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and parts of Upstate New York.
Michaud’s 2008 bill authoring NRBC was rolled into H.R. 2419, which became law on May 22, 2008.
Since his original legislation creating NRBC, Michaud has worked over the years to continue securing funding for the commission.
Rep. Michaud also is responsible for policy changes within the administration. As an example, he introduced the American Shoes for American Servicemembers Act in 2011, with the goal of ensuring our men and women in the armed forces wore American-made shoes. Essentially, the bill would bring DoD into compliance with the already-existing Berry Amendment.
Following years of Michaud’s advocacy, DoD announced in April it would take up his recommendations.
Have Michaud’s 12 years in Congress have been productive ones. Well, that’s up to voters to decide.