A $1.5 trillion package passed by the U.S. Senate late Thursday includes funding requested by Maine’s congressional delegation for a long list of local and community initiatives, as well as money for a guided missile destroyer to be built at Bath Iron Works.

It includes funding to revive what had been southern Maine’s only inpatient detoxification program, improve or replace water and sewer infrastructure in several Maine towns, renovate landmark buildings in Portland, Lewiston, Bridgton and Gardiner, help fire departments and community college workforce training programs, and support efforts to deal with climate change and right whale protection.

The 2,700-page bill also reauthorized the federal Violence Against Women Act, including language that for the first time makes Maine’s Indian tribes eligible for its provisions and allows the Penobscot Nation to adjudicate certain domestic violence cases that occur on their reservation.

“For years, Native women living within the Wabanaki Territories in Maine have lacked access to the same protections and resources that exist in the rest of Indian Country,” Penobscot Nation Chief Kirk Francis said in a statement. “We will now be able to use all the resources available to protect Native women, children and public safety officers located on our lands.”

The bill passed 68-31. It had already passed in the House and is expected to be signed into law by President Biden.

The bill included money for two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one of which will be built at BIW, according to the company.

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Some of the Maine earmarks included in the package were requested by multiple members of the delegation, including $1.7 million to finish the restoration of the historic African-American Abyssinian Meeting House in Portland.

It is the first time in a decade that members of Congress were allowed to request specific funding initiatives for their districts, known as earmarks, and occurred under tighter rules designed to avoid corruption and abuse.

In the House, for instance, each member was limited to just 10 requests, which had to be public and benefit nonprofits and governmental entities, not private firms.

“It went very well so we will do it again next year and we will expand the number of accounts and the number of earmarks per member and the dollar amounts on each one,” said First District Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat. “The reason they’re important is because it’s a way for individual members to engage to do something directly beneficial to their constituents, a way to connect them to their communities. Otherwise we pass the budget package, but it’s the executive branch that gets to decide which state or community gets favored.”

Pingree, chair of a powerful appropriations subcommittee, had all 10 of her requests approved. They include:

• $990,000 for the University of Maine to create a Maine Climate Coordination Center to help make the state carbon-neutral by 2045;

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• $765,000 for a state outreach and education program to engage lobster fishermen in right whale protection planning;

• $690,000 to support and expand Milestone Recovery’s substance abuse detoxification program in Portland;

• $325,000 for York County Shelter Programs to create a resource center in Sanford for homeless people and other vulnerable residents;

• $700,000 for the Eastern Trails Management District to design an 11-mile multiuse recreation trail and transportation corridor connecting North Berwick, Wells and Kennebunk.

Eight of Second District Rep. Jared Golden’s 10 requests were approved in the final bill, five of which overlapped with requests made by Sen. Angus King, Sen. Susan Collins or both. His successful requests include:

• $1 million for the city of Lewiston to remove asbestos and replace the roof of the historic Bates Mill Number 5;

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• $1 million for the town of Madison to construct and operate an anaerobic digester that would turn organic feed stock into biogas.

The Senate’s rules were looser, allowing each member to make dozens of requests.

In the final bill, Sen. Collins’ office reported receiving funding for 105 projects worth a total of $200.3 million out of an original set of requests totaling $275 million. Collins sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Sen. King’s office reported 92 earmarks approved totaling $136 million.

The biggest recipient of senatorial largesse is the University of Maine, at slightly over $90 million in funding for research into climate, advanced material and composites, wind energy and other programs. The Maine Department of Transportation wasn’t far behind, with more than $45 million for specific projects around the state, primarily improvements to existing roads.

“Deteriorating roads cost Mainers hundreds of dollars each year on average in vehicle repairs and wasted gasoline due to congestion. In addition, poor road designs can create hazardous conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists,” Collins said in a news release. “These projects will help all users of Maine roadways reach their homes and jobs safely and more quickly.”

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Collins’ earmarks include $2.5 million for the Navy to replace the fire station at its facility in Cutler. The Army Corps of Engineers received three earmarks from Collins totaling $2.4 million for dredging-related projects in Isle au Haut, Searsport and Thomaston. Collins asked for $1 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve the headwaters of the Kennebago River in northern Franklin County.

King’s earmarks include $1 million for a Wabanaki-operated drug treatment facility in Millinocket, $1.5 million to build a new child care facility at the Bath YMCA and $1 million for a new community center in Waldoboro.

“These historic investments will go directly to the local governments and nonprofits that have provided economic opportunity, supported civic engagement, and distributed vital public services to the people of Maine,” King said in a written statement. “These organizations have made immense contributions to our state – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – and I’m glad they will be getting the funding they need to continue and expand their efforts.”

Golden was not available for comment Friday.

Note: This story was updated Monday, March 14 to correct a reference to funding for two U.S. Navy destroyers. One of the two ships will be built by Bath Iron Works, according to the company. 


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