Paying Our Bills


When your bills are due, you pay them. It's just what Maine people do to be financially responsible. It’s the same for the federal government — and needs to stay that way — or our credit rating will go down, leading to higher costs and significant job losses.  

As I write this, Congress is working to pass a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and allow us to keep paying our bills. What does this mean? This isn't about any new spending — this just allows us to pay the bills Congress already agreed on. 

There are parts of the agreement that will be good news for many Americans and some compromises that I wish weren't necessary — but that's what happens in a divided government. The most important part is that it will hopefully allow us to avoid a devastating economic meltdown. I appreciate Speaker McCarthy and President Biden proceeding with negotiations in good faith and I am optimistic we can get the deal finalized in the next few days.  

Securing our Border While Defending the American Dream 


At the very core of the American identity, the United States is a rich tapestry of people, cultures, religions, and ethnicities from around the world. We are a nation of immigrants, and we are also a nation of laws; the United States must continue welcoming those with credible asylum claims while promoting an orderly process that ensures the safety and security of our borders. 

Earlier this month, a pandemic-era immigration rule, known as Title 42, ended, allowing for the resumption of border asylum claims. Though we’ve seen a drop in border crossings, the end of this regulation highlights the long-overdue need for Congress to put partisan differences aside to reform our immigration laws. Finding common ground should not be hard – both sides of the aisle agree we need additional resources like border patrol personnel, border security technology, expanded funding for drug interdiction efforts, and more immigration judges to address current backlogs. 

That is why I joined my colleagues to introduce the Border Management, Security, and Assistance Act. This legislation provides immediate assistance to expand border security and asylum processing. 

As I'm sure you've seen in Maine, our towns are trying hard to support the asylum seekers waiting to have their claims heard – most of whom are ready and willing to find work. There needs to be more assistance for these people seeking safe haven, better resources for communities, and easier ways for asylum seekers to fill the many open jobs across our state.  

Our bill takes on these challenges and provides critical support to nongovernment organizations that receive asylum seekers while fast-tracking the work permit process from six months to thirty days. This is a commonsense step to address both the needs of businesses that are struggling to find workers and asylum seekers who want to support their families.

As we address these immediate issues, it's also clear that broader immigration action is needed to ensure that the United States remains true to its values of safety, security, and opportunity.

As part of this holistic effort, Senator Collins and I introduced the America’s CHILDREN Act, a bill that would protect the more than 250,000 Documented Dreamers living in the United States. These young people have spent almost their entire lives as part of our communities – going to school, forming relationships, contributing to the economy, and working hard to better the nation we all love. They want to be part of our country, and we should let them. 

While there's clearly a lot to be done, progress is being made. I remain hopeful that we can come together on these issues to secure the promises of the American Dream and protect our nation's communities. 

Expanding Markets for Maine Wild Blueberries


Maine wild blueberries are more than just a delicious and nutritious treat, they're an iconic part of our state's identity, supporting many farm families across our communities. The frozen delights can be found in stores around the globe, contributing to exports worth over $245 million in 2021 – 99% of which come from our state. That's a lot of money going to the Maine economy, but it should be even more. 

In 2019, the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement eliminated tariffs – an import tax – on fresh and dried blueberries to Japan, but frozen blueberries were not included and continue to face a 6.0 percent or 9.6 percent tariff rate, depending on sugar content. There aren't any tariffs on frozen blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries – just blueberries. It just makes no sense at all, and has caused sales of our wild blueberries in Japan, a critical market, to decline over the years, hurting Maine farmers and communities.

We need to end this unfair disparity. This month, I joined a bipartisan group of colleagues urging U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to work with her Japanese counterparts to eliminate the harmful frozen blueberry tariffs. If successful, we can expand overseas sales of Maine wild blueberries and bring even more profits to our family blueberry farms.  

I'll keep you posted on the effort. Hopefully, we can help more people enjoy the treat we all know and love. 

Remembering Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice


On May 5, 1866, one year after the Civil War ended, a ceremony was held in Waterloo, New York, honoring veterans of that bloody, devastating war. Stores closed, flags were flown at half-staff, and the community came together to recognize those who fought and sacrificed to preserve our nation. 

As the years passed, the scope and size of these ceremonies grew across the country, and in 1971, the annual tradition was officially turned into Memorial Day – a day of solemn national observance. For more than a century and a half, we have continued this sacred ritual of paying tribute to those who gave their lives by rededicating ourselves to the principles for which they fought.

On this Memorial Day, we remembered the brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country and to preserve our way of life. We remember them not just as graves marked with flags, but as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, neighbors and friends. We remember their hopes and their dreams; we remember the part of ourselves that was lost when they gave our country, as President Lincoln described, “the last full measure of devotion."

Maine communities have long understood our responsibility to honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives. I was privileged to talk about this commitment with Masardis' Harry Hafford and how the County came together to create the Northern Maine Veterans Cemetery. Our Memorial Day conversation is now part of the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project and you can watch it below:   

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Helping Both Veterans and Businesses


Go pretty much anywhere in the state and you'll see "help wanted" signs. It's clear that American businesses across our country are struggling with worker shortages and need more support. In fact, the Chamber of Commerce suggests that there are nearly 2 million workers missing from the labor force compared to pre-pandemic totals. 

We need to help these businesses find skilled workers and one of the best ways to do that is by helping organizations hire veterans looking for post-military employment. There are some clear, bipartisan ideas Congress is working on to support veteran-business connections that I think will make a real difference. 

The first is the bipartisan Veteran Improvement Commercial Driver License Act to open up more opportunities for veterans to utilize the skills they learned in the military like operating large vehicles. The bill would ensure GI benefits can be used at more commercial driving program (CDL) schools – helping veterans maintain access to good jobs while providing trucking companies with much-needed workers.

The other is the VET-TEC Authorization Act, another bipartisan bill, that would permanently authorize the Veteran Employment Through Technology Education Courses (VET-TEC) program that helps veterans access high-technology jobs. The program provides tuition at eligible training institutions, housing stipends, and connections with potential employers. Since its start in 2017, VET-TEC has helped thousands of veterans get jobs in the technology sector with an average starting salary of over $65,000. 

Creative solutions, like the ones proposed in these bills, are commonsense ways to get our veterans good jobs and fill labor shortages with Americans who already have the skills necessary to effectively do the job. These bipartisan measures are just the first of many we can enact to help veterans and get our economy back on track. I hope we can pass them swiftly.

Supporting Maine's Veteran Healthcare Providers


Good jobs aren't the only things our veterans need, they also deserve world class, accessible healthcare. Last week, I was proud to join the ribbon cutting on a new VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Rumford. This state-of-the-art facility will help hundreds of veterans across Western Maine conveniently use their benefits in a location closer to home.

Along with this new healthcare center, Maine's congressional delegation is working to improve reimbursements for Maine community care providers treating veterans with mental health conditions. In a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Denis McDonough, we encouraged the VA to adopt better reimbursement schedules to ensure that Maine veterans continue receiving the care they need. We also introduced legislation to fast-track reimbursements from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to Maine Veterans’ Homes (MVH). 

In 2021, at the urging of the Maine Delegation, Congress passed legislation authorizing the VA to cover the costs of in-home care for veterans with dementia provided by state veterans homes, but the VA has still not begun processing the reimbursements. This delay has forced MVH, and in some cases veterans and their families, to pay out-of-pocket for the care costing approximately $1,500 per month per veteran, totaling over $2.5 million since 2019. The Reimburse Veterans for Domiciliary Care Act would require the Department to fast-track payments for current care and retroactively provide MVH with the reimbursements for past care. 

Between the new healthcare center in Rumford and these bipartisan efforts, I believe we can help more Maine veterans get the care we owe them. As Memorial Day reminded us this month, it's the least we can do for these brave Americans who put their lives on the line for our country. 

Meeting Good Folks Across Maine

One of my favorite parts of my job is traveling the state and meeting with all the good people who are working to make Maine an even better place to live. I've always found that one day of seeing is worth at least a hundred of reading, and this month in Kennebec, Aroostook, and Hancock Counties, that was certainly the case. 


The month kicked off with the 49th Annual Department of Maine Disabled American Veterans State Convention. Along with seeing some old friends, I got to hear great ideas about how Washington can better meet our commitment to those who served. You won't find a more patriotic group around. 

From shore to mountain, Acadia National Park is an inspiring natural treasure that everyone should have a chance to experience. Earlier in the month, we broke ground on a new public transportation center in Trenton that will help address overcrowding on the island and let thousands more explore the Maine wonder. I look forward to seeing the exciting vision become a reality. 


If you want to feel good about Maine's future, spend some time in one of our schools. I had the privilege this month of joining (virtually) classrooms at Maranacook Middle School and Hodgdon High School to talk about our government, democracy, and the responsibilities of citizenship. The young leaders I met epitomize why our state has unlimited potential.

The class in Hodgdon was also a chance to thank retiring teacher Brian Fitzpatrick, who for 40 years has taught, inspired, and mentored so many students. It's sad to see him leave, but his impact on our communities will last for years and years to come. I hope he enjoys his well-deserved retirement and we are proud to call him one of our own.


Every visit was a great learning experience and a powerful reminder of why our state's future is bright. With caring, committed communities like ours, there's nothing we can't accomplish together. 

May 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.

  • Confronting China’s “Economic Fraud.” Senator Thune and I introduced a resolution that calls on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to reform its special and differential treatment rules so competitive countries, such as the People’s Republic of China, are not able to self-designate as a ‘developing country’ in order to gain unfair advantages over the United States and its hardworking businesses which follow international economic rules. Read more HERE.
  • Reforming the National Security Classification System. Senator Collins and I introduced the Sensible Classification Act of 2023 which would increase accountability and oversight of the classification system, limit overclassification, and direct federal agencies to justify security clearance requirements. Read more HERE.
  • Maximizing the Potential from Electric School Buses. I introduced the BIDIRECTIONAL Act which would create a Department of Energy (DOE) program dedicated to deploying electric school buses with “bidirectional vehicle-to-grid (V2G) flow capability,” or the ability to use the bus batteries to power the electrical grid when the buses are not in use. Read more HERE.
  • Announcing over $700,000 for Modernization Projects at Portland Ship Yard. The Portland Ship Yard has been awarded $739,202 through the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Small Shipyard Grant Program. This funding will allow the shipyard to purchase a 60-ton vessel trailer and install a new indoor ventilation system. The project is part of the shipyard’s modernization efforts to improve safety and efficiency. Read more HERE.

Hearing Highlights

We've had a busy month of hearings in the Senate Armed Services, Veterans' Affairs, Intelligence, and Energy and Natural Resources Committees. Here are some of the highlights: 

In a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee, I questioned Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on her support for permitting reform measures and why they are necessary for achieving a clean energy future.

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In a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee today on “Worldwide Threats,” I stressed to administration officials that more action and funding is needed to address the opioid epidemic that’s causing 300 American deaths a day.

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In the Senate National Parks Subcommittee, I had a discussion with National Park Service (NPS) Director Charles Sams about a range of challenges and opportunities facing America’s iconic public recreation areas.

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In The News


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