Sign up to receive email updates
National Security and International Relations
Mike supports a strong national defense and has fought hard for Maine's shipyards in Portsmouth and Bath. He also helped to successfully create jobs and expand the workload of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) facility and the Maine Military Authority in Limestone. Mike believes that we must live up to our shared commitment to our nation’s service members while they are on active duty as well as when they come home and take off the uniform. While Mike supports a strong national defense and comprehensive homeland security efforts, he believes that diplomatic, economic, social, and cultural influences should be the fundamentals of our nation's international relations. The use of military force should always be the choice of last resort.
In addition to a strong national defense, Mike supports the homeland security efforts of federal, state, and local law enforcement, first responders and border security officers. He supported legislation that addresses criminal rehabilitation and hiring of additional law enforcement officers. He also has worked to continue and expand grant programs that ensure law enforcement is adequately equipped and state and local criminal justice programs are fully funded.
SUPPORTING MAINE’S DEFENSE INDUSTRY
DFAS Limestone: Mike helped to successfully save the Defense Financing and Accounting Service (DFAS) office in Limestone, Maine from closing as part of the 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). He took the lead on advocating for the dedication and overall excellence of the Maine DFAS employees. By highlighting the case for the quality of life and low operating cost of the Limestone facility, Mike ensured the long-term sustainability of DFAS Limestone. Instead of closing the facility as originally recommended, the BRAC Commission nearly doubled the workforce in Limestone.
Maine Military Authority (MMA) Limestone: Mike was worked to obtain $50 million for Humvee maintenance operations for Limestone’s Maine Military Authority in the fiscal year 2010 Defense Appropriations bill. MMA Limestone refurbishes vehicles for the Army National Guard. Mike helped secure a $20 million increase over the $30 million that was originally budgeted for the facility for fiscal year 2010, which led to jobs being saved and increased maintenance capacity for the Army National Guard.
Mike has been working with MMA and Maine’s Congressional Delegation to secure more work for the Limestone facility. In May of 2011, Mike praised the news that the National Guard Bureau is sending 50 5 ton trucks to MMA for immediate work. According to MMA, each vehicle represents 700 hours of work, enough to keep the current workforce gainfully employed into the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2012. This new work means the layoffs that were scheduled to take place will be avoided.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS): Mike fully supports the experienced civilian trades people, naval officers and enlisted personnel at PNS who provide our Navy with quality overhaul work in a safe, timely, and affordable manner. Mike has supported Portsmouth Naval Shipyard being given the designation of planning yard for the Navy’s new Joint Multi-Mission Submersible (JMMS) project. Mike also supported full funding for the Waterfront Support Facility at PNS.
Bath Iron Works (BIW): Mike has consistently supported the workers and operations of BIW. In past Navy discussions with Congress on the status and future of DDG-1000, Mike engaged with the Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations to ensure the stability and long-term employment of the workforce at BIW. Mike is confident the BIW shipyard is well-positioned to handle the Navy's shifting needs and priorities. He’s elicited assurances from the Secretary that the Navy will continue to recognize the contributions and potential of the workforce at BIW.
THE WARS IN IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN
Mike supports the President’s goals of defeating al Qaeda and reducing the threat of global terrorism. However, as we enter our ninth year of the war in Afghanistan, our brave troops and their families are being strained by multiple redeployments. The cost of our wars in the Middle East now exceeds $1 trillion dollars, with billions of dollars more that will be needed to continue our current strategy in the region. With an investment of people and resources of this magnitude, Mike feels obligated to continue to call on the President to provide Congress and the American people with a firm plan and timeline for troop withdrawal, including a set date when U.S. forces will be completely out of Afghanistan.
Mike voted against the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act because it contained $159.3 billion for the efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and no withdrawal plan, and he voted against the H.R. 3082, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriation Act for FY2011 for the same reason. The continuing strain on our military also undermines our ability to react to threats in other parts of the world. As of December 2010, 5,849 American service members’ lives have been lost, thousands more of Iraqi and Afghanistan soldiers and service members have died and many more have been wounded physically and mentally.
While official U.S. combat operations ended in Iraq, we cannot forget the servicemembers expected to remain there until the end of 2011 and the continued violence in the region. The majority of Americans agree that success in Iraq now requires a political solution. In order to create the greatest chance of success for Iraq and for our troops, Mike believes that we should draw down the overall number of troops and focus on training the Iraq Security Forces and empowering Iraqis.
Near the beginning of 2010, Mike cosponsored H.Con.Res. 248, directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan. The invocation of the War Powers Act would force future votes on a withdrawal from Afghanistan, rather than votes on funding. Currently, the public can only judge the commitment of Representatives to ending the wars by their voting records on appropriations for the Department of Defense and the supplemental funding bills. However, the War Powers Act would be a straight up or down vote on the war itself and not be clouded by the necessary funding measures that are sometimes included in appropriations bills. Mike voted for this resolution when it came to the floor of the House, but was disappointed that it failed by a vote of 65 to 356.
Mike has also cosponsored legislation to require a plan for the safe, orderly and expeditious redeployment of U.S. Armed Forces from Afghanistan. He believes that it is of the utmost importance that we finalize a responsible plan to end our time in Afghanistan. He is concerned that if Congress does not ask the tough questions now, we will find ourselves in the same unenviable situation as Vietnam, a seemingly never ending war that drains our nation’s treasury, prevents real investments in our people and strains our military personnel and families.
LIBYA, THE MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA
Events in the Middle East and North Africa have been dominating international headlines. In recent months, protests in this region have escalated to a new level. From Algeria to Libya and Yemen to Syria, citizens are rebelling and fighting for their democratic rights. In Tunisia and Egypt, largely peaceful protests have successfully resulted in the end of decades long dictatorships. As a nation forced to fight a tyrannical government for our own independence and unalienable rights, America shares a special bond with any peoples faced with the same historic opportunity.
However, Mike has serious reservations about what level of U.S. engagement is appropriate, especially considering the entrenched nature of many of these conflicts. While he appreciates the President’s work to limit the role of the U.S., there are still too many unanswered questions. Specifically, in the case of Libya, he remains concerned about the costs of these operations, the lack of consultation with Congress, and the precedent these recent actions set.
No one knows how long this surge of democracy will continue to spread across the Middle East. It is important that we watch the situation to ensure that should governments change, as smooth a transition as possible takes place, and that the U.S. and its allies stand to work with new leadership when appropriate.
Working towards a peaceful solution in the Middle East: Mike is deeply troubled by the continuation of violence in Gaza and the loss of innocent life both sides have endured since hostilities began. He has consistently supported a two-state solution to this protracted conflict, believing that the only viable settlement to the Middle East crisis must promote conditions in which a fully recognized State of Israel can live cooperatively and peacefully with a neighboring democratic Palestinian state. A successful negotiated settlement must also support efforts to diminish the appeal and influence of extremists in the Palestinian territories while strengthening the voice of moderate Palestinians who share a commitment to securing a lasting peace and building toward the future.
Mike looks forward to the day when a secure Israel can live in peace with its neighbors, including a sovereign, democratic, and peaceful Palestinian state. If we are ever going to reach that goal, a goal shared by a majority of the world, then the United States and the international community must remain diplomatically engaged in creating dialogue and encouraging safety and security for all peoples of the region.
Addressing Iran: For many years, a battle has been fought within Iranian society between those who wish to move forward toward a free and democratic society and those who wish to remain in power through oppression and religious extremism. Mike remains fervently opposed to a preemptive strike or an invasion of Iran. He believes that the situation in Iran should be addressed through diplomatic means and wants to work with our allies to support democratic efforts to create a free, stable and prosperous Iran. A military strike or invasion would set this process back by years, and harm our efforts to secure peace and stability in the region.
With that in mind, Mike has cosponsored two past resolutions. The first resolution stated that, absent a national emergency created by an attack, the President shall consult with Congress, and receive specific authorization pursuant to law from Congress, prior to initiating military force against Iran. The second resolution urged the President to increase economic, political and diplomatic pressure on Iran. Unfortunately, this non-binding resolution has been greatly misunderstood and misrepresented. It did not declare war on Iran or call for a naval blockade. In fact, the legislation explicitly stated it should not be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran.
In addition, Mike has supported legislation to address and dissuade Iran’s current nuclear ambitions by imposing targeted petroleum sanctions and taxes on the government of Iran. Mike does not believe that Iran should be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and he strongly supports the President’s initiative to reengage diplomatically to encourage Iran to adhere to the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
IMPLEMENTING THE 9/11 COMMISSION RECOMMENDATIONS
The tragic events of September 11th, 2001 deeply affected us all. It is important to remember those we lost, honor the sacrifice and bravery of our first responders and Armed Forces, and reaffirm our commitment to defending the United States against all future threats. Mike believes that one of the most important ways that we can serve the memory of those who were lost is to take action – to make positive changes to our nation's strength and security that will help us prevent another serious attack.
In July of 2004, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission submitted its recommendations to Congress on how to better protect America from terrorism. Unfortunately, for the next two and half years, Congress failed to enact most of these recommendations into law.
H.R. 1, the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007, was the first bill introduced in the 110th Congress. On January 9th 2007, Mike voted for H.R. 1, which the House approved 299 to 128. On July 27th, Mike voted for the House-Senate Conference Report on H.R. 1, which the House approved 371 to 40. As a sponsor of the bill, Mike was pleased that it received wide bipartisan support and that the President signed it into law on August 3rd. It was a moment where legislators from both parties could come together and make a positive change to help protect our country.
The legislation enacted critical seaport and air cargo screening requirements; improved the communications capabilities of first responders; strengthened intelligence and information sharing with local law enforcement; and implemented stronger measures to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
SUPPORTING LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
Mike has long been a strong advocate of fully funding the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. These programs provide funding to local agencies to hire officers and procure the technology and equipment.
With changing times, our law enforcement must also change and adapt to threats as they emerge. Mike has worked hard over the years to obtain federal funding for vitally important law enforcement equipment and programs in Maine.
A Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) review of Methamphetamine lab incidents several years ago highlighted MDEA’s need for acquiring a vehicle and equipment to improve its ability to respond to such incidents. Mike secured $200,000 for the agency’s needs and they are now better able to respond to Methamphetamine lab incidents. Resources received as a direct result of the funding include: a Meth lab response vehicle, equipment for use by incident officers, training for those officers, Meth awareness training for all first responders and awareness training for communities through the Meth Watch Program.
Maine’s Game Wardens now have enhanced capability to perform their mission due to close to $1 million Mike was able to secure for the agency. Game wardens relied on paper and manual processes, limited access to electronic information and intelligence, limited accesses to the State of Maine network infrastructure, and paper maps to perform their jobs. Extensive and frequent travel outside their patrol areas was necessary to submit required information and access systems or computer resources. Funding secured by Mike led to mobile offices, software, and connectivity in every Game Warden patrol vehicle. Wardens now have access to up-to-date- electronic mapping software interfaced with GPS units to support search and rescue responsiveness. This enables wardens to perform all aspects of their job and access intelligence systems from their truck, therefore keeping them in their assigned areas where their services can be rapidly deployed to support the people of Maine.
PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS
Mike, who is a member of the Human Rights Caucus, cares deeply about protecting the rights of people worldwide. Mike believes that our country has a moral responsibility to promote stability and prevent the spread of violent conflict. There are too many instances in the world today where basic human rights are being violated. Unfortunately, in many situations, too little is being done to rectify the tragic situation:
China: In China, the government's human rights record remains poor. There have been numerous recorded incidents of human rights violations particularly regarding the Chinese regime's crackdown in Tibet. Reports abound of human rights violations against Christians, Uyghur Muslims, Falun Gong, democracy advocates, AIDS victims, journalists, and lawyers in China.
In response to these violations, Mike has signed a number of letters to the President of the People's Republic of China urging him to protect the freedoms of the Chinese people. He has also voted for a House Resolution which called on the Government of the People's Republic of China to end its crackdown in Tibet and enter into a substantive dialogue with the Dalai Lama.
Sudan: An estimated 2 million people have died in Sudan over the past two decades due to war-related causes and millions have been displaced from their homes. In Darfur alone, an estimated 2.61 million people have been affected by the conflict. More than 1.8 million have been internally displaced, while 200,000 have become refugees in neighboring countries and 70,000 have died (according to the United Nations).
In the past, Mike joined a large group of his colleagues in cosponsoring legislation which encouraged divestiture from companies that do business in Darfur and prohibited federal contracts with such companies. He also sent a letter to Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon asking that the UN continue to take an active role in attempts to resolve this crisis. Mike joined a bipartisan group of House members in signing a letter urging the Secretary-General to increase his focus on this issue. Mike is also an active member of the Sudan Caucus and continues to push to provide aid to those in need in Sudan.
Colombia: Violence towards the labor class and political opposition continues throughout Colombia. The UN has reported that, from 2007-2008, at least 296 civilians were killed by Columbian security forces. Of those, in 2007 alone, 38 labor activists were murdered. Of the 2,262 labor activists murdered between 1991-2006, almost 400 were killed during President Uribe's Administration. Paramilitary organizations have been linked to massacres and narcotrafficking.
Mike has taken a leadership role in the House of Representatives against human rights violations in Columbia, and the impact of trade agreements with such nations. Mike has held several meetings with Colombian labor leaders and government officials. Mike will continue to adamantly oppose any free-trade agreement with a country that allows such atrocities to occur against their working class.