A Visit to Protect Freedom and Democracy


A few weeks ago, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed and I traveled to Ukraine to meet President Zelenskyy and his national security cabinet. 

A wise old man once told me that “one day of seeing is better than 100 days of reading” and that was certainly true in this case. To see the determination and courage of the Ukrainian people first hand was a powerful reminder that they are not only fighting (and dying) for their own land, but for the values of freedom and justice we share with them.

I saw two wars taking place in Ukraine: one a brutal clash between militaries that resembles the trench warfare of World War I, the other a merciless bombing campaign against civilians. As Ukrainians wage a historic defense of democratic values and their homeland, they deserve unwavering support and assistance from the free world.

The assistance we are supplying them is not charity but is an investment in preventing a wider war that could engulf the world. Had an investment like this been made in 1938 when Hitler “annexed” the Sudetenland, so much of the horrors of World War II could have been avoided and millions of lives could have been saved. That is what's at stake today. 

One of our key goals was also to make sure that the aid we're providing Ukraine is being used as intended and well accounted for. After asking President Zelenskyy directly about this issue and meeting with military leadership, I must say, it was good to hear he’s taking this issue seriously. In partnership with the U.S. government and private accounting firms, the Ukrainians are meticulously tracking every weapon, spare part, and vehicle they receive.  That's not to say the effort will be perfect, but right now Americans can be confident that our support is being put to good use as the arsenal of democracy. 

To demonstrate how much I think of Zelenskyy’s bravery and leadership in the face of a violent autocrat like Putin, I wore a sweatshirt featuring the finest leader to ever come from Maine: Joshua Chamberlain.  It seemed very appropriate for the meeting, and President Zelenskyy appreciated hearing about Chamberlain’s place in history.

Expanding Childcare In Rural Maine


Access to childcare is about more than just providing a place where children can spend their time – it's a vital community resource that's necessary for the success of working families and puts youth on track for a lifetime of learning. 

Earlier this month, I visited the University of Maine at Farmington's Child Care and Early Education Center to see how the school is using $2 million in federal funding to renovate and expand the facility and operations. The center received $1 million from the American Rescue Plan and $1 million in Congressionally-Directed Spending for the expansion of the Center which will fund a 10,384 square foot state-of-the-art facility that will improve its ability to provide high-quality care in Franklin County, including by adding 20 new slots for local infants and toddlers.

Without affordable childcare, parents are forced out of the workforce and businesses miss out on talented employees – which makes this funding a workforce multiplier and among the most important investments we can make for the future of our state. I’m so grateful for everything the University of Maine at Farmington is doing to invest in Maine people.

The federal investment will expand access to childcare for families across the region, help address the serious workforce shortage in the vital child care sector, and have positive ripple effects throughout the community and economy. 

A Forward-Thinking Approach to Telemedicine


The coronavirus pandemic has tragically taken the lives of more than 2,800 Maine people and forced us all to make immensely difficult lifestyle changes. However, there is at least one silver lining from COVID; the rapid adoption of telehealth. In a transformation for patient care around Maine, instead of making a long winter drive to see your doctor, all you needed was a cell phone or a laptop and a high-speed internet connection to receive medical care from the safety and comfort of your home.

Telemedicine has become an indispensable component of our healthcare system and a resource that many Maine people utilize. It allows rural families to attend appointments more regularly, provides urgent care without the need for huge emergency room bills, and reduces potential exposure to disease for immunocompromised Maine people. The ways we receive medical care are changing, and the advancement of telemedicine means it’s changing for the better. 

We don’t have to imagine the benefits of this: one Maine hospital system reported as much as a 240-fold increase in the number of people using its telehealth services since the onset of the pandemic. This means fewer missed appointments and healthier Maine people—a win for Maine patients, doctors, and payors alike.

It’s going to take a lot of work to secure the continued availability and accessibility of telehealth, but I’m confident it’s possible. In the Bangor Daily News this weekend I shared my full thoughts on why this issue is so important to Maine and how we can secure our telehealth future. You can find it HERE, or listen to my latest episode of Inside Maine on telehealth HERE

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr.


On Martin Luther King, Jr. day this year I was thinking back to August 28, 1963, when I sat perched on a tree limb on the National Mall and listened as Dr. King told a crowd about his dream that one day, America would truly embody the idea that all people are created equal. His words still echo in my ears. Dr. King spoke with clarity, passion, and unparalleled talent to remind us that it’s character that counts, not race, gender, religion, or national origin. His voice and his work inspired generations of Americans to recommit themselves to realize his dream.

While Dr. King’s vision is far from being fulfilled, Congress has made great bipartisan progress to realize his dreams. Just last year alone, we passed commonsense legislation to enshrine the right to same-sex and interracial marriage and fix our broken electoral system to ensure that our democratic system continues to work for the people. Yet there is indeed much more to be done.

As Dr. King famously said: the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. We must summon his wisdom and his drive as Americans of all backgrounds continue to work together in pursuit of a more perfect union—one that truly guarantees liberty and justice for all.

Helping Maine People Age with Dignity


Maine people deserve to age with dignity in the comfort of their own communities and access to care that empowers them to do so. For many aging people, this means quality, affordable homecare that can meet their needs and support their independence. 

As Maine faces serious home healthcare shortages, I'm working on legislation that will significantly expand this critical care for older and disabled Maine people while improving pay and benefits for caregivers. The Better Care Better Jobs Act would increase Medicaid funding for homecare, helping many of the over 1,700 people in Maine – and 650,000 people nationwide – on waiting lists finally receive care in the setting of their choice. 

The bill is a much-needed step to help thousands of aging people across the state access this essential quality of life care. It also means jobs; this investment will significantly expand the homecare workforce, save money by reducing nursing home costs, and support dedicated caregivers. I am hopeful that Congress can pass this commonsense legislation to support older people, caregivers, and communities across our state.

Covering Ground and Meeting Good People


I covered some ground in Maine this month, starting with a sunrise on the coast pictured above.


Next I visited the amazing 3D printed house at Orono which was printed in the University’s composites lab (which has the largest 3D printer in the world) using wood waste and corn as the “goop” to do the printing. This is exciting on many levels—it can possibly help with Maine’s affordable housing crisis as well as provide new uses for the products of our forests.


I also visited the wonderful antique skimobile museum next to the Northern Timber Cruisers clubhouse just outside Millinocket, and (of course) saw a view of Katahdin across Millinocket Lake. 


I also visited Milo (don’t miss Elaine’s donuts!), Dover-Foxcroft, Farmington, Medway, East Millinocket and points in between. It’s always fun—and rejuvenating—to be on the road; I visited great places, but more important than that, I met some great people.

Increasing Trust in Government


Maine people deserve a transparent, responsible government that is both by the people and for the people, not special interests. When you go to a Maine town meeting you have to publicly stand up in front of your neighbors to have your voice heard – it shouldn’t be any different in Washington. 

Unfortunately, that's not the case right now, and special interests are able to pour massive amounts of anonymous money into pollical groups. It's not fair to ordinary people, and it's why I'm working on a bill that will disclose large political donations and give Maine people confidence that their elected officials are working for them. 

The Sunlight for Unaccountable Non-Profits (SUN) Act will require the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to publish the names of any donors who give more than $5,000 to tax-exempt political organizations. That's just commonsense. I hope it can improve public faith in government and create some much needed accountability.

January Policy Update


As a reminder, you can read more on my regularly updated press release page at Here are some other priorities I’ve been working on:

  • Investing in Organic Farm Production. Maine's Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham is receiving significant federal funding to expand processing, marketing, and sales of their certified organic products, boosting revenue and creating jobs. Read more HERE.
  • Improving Northern Border Operations. I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues in urging the Biden administration to prioritize resources for the northern border like resuming normal operating hours at the northern ports of entry, investing in modern monitoring technology, and recruiting and retaining additional U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) personnel. Read more HERE.
  • Protecting Maine’s Forest Economy by Cracking Down on Illegal Wood Imports. Representative Pingree and I are calling on the Biden administration to stop illegal wood imports that harm Maine’s forest products industry. In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, we highlight the importance of taking on the illegal wood trade, call attention to the slow enforcement of existing laws, and urge rapid action on foreign imports that devalue Maine timber. Read more HERE.
  • Expanding Access to Long-Term Care. The Better Care Better Jobs Act would increase Medicaid funding for homecare, helping many of the over 1,700 people in Maine – and 650,000 people nationwide – on waiting lists finally receive care in the setting of their choice. The legislation prioritizes wage increases for people who deliver the critical services – supporting hardworking caregivers, creating new good-paying jobs, and helping to address the serious homecare workforce shortage across the state and in rural areas. Read more HERE.

In The News


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