PORTLAND — Maine’s U.S. senators are calling for President-elect Donald Trump to exempt the Department of Veterans Affairs from a potential hiring freeze on civilian federal employees.

Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King say Trump should not include critical VA personnel who provide care and support for veterans. They said Tuesday that a hiring freeze could leave important positions unfilled at veterans’ centers in Maine and elsewhere.

Trump raised the possibility of a federal hiring freeze last year as a way to reduce workforce. He has mentioned it as a goal for his first 100 days.

Collins and King say they are hopeful that the hiring free would not apply to VA personnel because of their role in protecting public health.

Collins is a Republican and King is an independent.

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