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Maine congresswoman Chellie Pingree seeking 8th term in U.S. House

Seeking an 8th term in the House of Representatives, Maine Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree is selling her seniority.Elected in 2008 after serving in the state legislature, Pingree is the first Democratic woman to represent Maine in Congress and the first woman to represent Maine’s 1st Congressional District.“I hope the voters will consider giving me another term on Congress, so I have an opportunity to serve,” Pingree said in an interview. “I’m a subcommittee chair now. I’m on the Appropriations Committee. I have so many more opportunities to help the people of Maine. I understand better how all of the systems work.”From her subcommittee perch, Pingree has oversight over the budgets of the federal agriculture and education departments and Environmental Protection Agency.Beyond steering funds to her home state, Pingree been able to lure those cabinet secretaries to visit Maine. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Gorham this month to promote the national free school lunch program. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visited York County school bus drivers and a community college in the spring. EPA Administrator Michael Regan toured critical infrastructure threatened by sea level rise, Saco’s sewage treatment plant, in the winter.“It’s always good when you can get a cabinet secretary to visit your state, because you’re often talking to them about very specific problems. Here in Maine, you know, we’re very concerned PFAS in our soil, and we’re far ahead of other states. So, you get somebody in who can look at that directly and hear directly from the farmers, it makes a huge difference,” Pingree said. The Deputy Secretary of Agriculture joined Pingree on a visit with organic farmersin Brunswick in June.Pingree said, “Some of it is about policies that can be very hard to change if somebody in Washington doesn’t really get it.”We met up with Pingree as she visited the Preble Street Food Security Hub, in South Portland, where the social services nonprofit assembles meals and grocery boxes to be distributed to people in need. Though Republicans, including her opponent, Ed Thelander, argue excessive government spending has fueled inflation, Pingree defends the spending, especially the $4 trillion in coronavirus relief that included $1,400 checks last year and the Paycheck Protection Program.Pingree said, “So many businesses in Maine, restaurants, people in the service industry, had to close down, couldn’t have gotten through it if they couldn’t have kept paying their employees.”She also rejects the argument that simply pumping more oil will reduce energy prices.Pingree said, “That’s the same line that we hear from the oil and gas companies, but the fact is it’s not working out right now. America’s got big production going on now, and we are still suffering from high prices.”She’s focused on mitigating climate change by developing renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power.”So, we’re no longer dependent on the Russians and the Middle Eastern people who we are in conflict with, who can change their policies at the drop of a hat,” Pingree said. Pingree visited countries bordering Ukraine earlier this year and agreed with the Biden administration plan to admit 100,000 Ukrainian refugees displace by the Russian invasion.She’s also advocated for asylum seekers from abroad — 1,900 people from 690 asylum-seeking families arrived in Portland in the past year – to be granted work permits 30 days after their arrival instead of being forced to wait six months.She’s also introduced a bill to make federal student loans zero interest.Pingree said, “Why does the government need to make money off of students who are already struggling?”In the current Congress, Pingree voted for more police funding, such as $350 billion in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, along with the act’s police reforms, including banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants.“That’s money to recruit, to train, to support those police departments in all of the needs that they have.” Pingree said. “There are police departments all over the country that are in need of that reform. When people watched what happened to George Floyd, they were concerned about chokeholds and some of the practices being used. We’ve heard from a police association and chiefs – this will make for better police departments. This is good in the long run.”The bill passed the House but did not pass the Senate.Pingree, 67, was a teenager when the Supreme Court issued it Roe vs. Wade decision finding a constitutional right to abortion.Following the June decision overturning Roe, Pingree wants to restore and protect abortion rights.”There’s only one way to fix this issue—we must elect pro-choice Democrats to Congress,” Pingree told the Maine Democratic Party Convention in May.She is working to prevent further restrictions or bans on abortion.Pingree said in her first debate with Thelander on October 12, “That’s a right women should have to discuss with their practitioners, their own families. That is not something that any politician should be meddling in.”

Seeking an 8th term in the House of Representatives, Maine Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree is selling her seniority.

Elected in 2008 after serving in the state legislature, Pingree is the first Democratic woman to represent Maine in Congress and the first woman to represent Maine’s 1st Congressional District.

“I hope the voters will consider giving me another term on Congress, so I have an opportunity to serve,” Pingree said in an interview. “I’m a subcommittee chair now. I’m on the Appropriations Committee. I have so many more opportunities to help the people of Maine. I understand better how all of the systems work.”

From her subcommittee perch, Pingree has oversight over the budgets of the federal agriculture and education departments and Environmental Protection Agency.

Beyond steering funds to her home state, Pingree been able to lure those cabinet secretaries to visit Maine.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Gorham this month to promote the national free school lunch program. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona visited York County school bus drivers and a community college in the spring. EPA Administrator Michael Regan toured critical infrastructure threatened by sea level rise, Saco’s sewage treatment plant, in the winter.

“It’s always good when you can get a cabinet secretary to visit your state, because you’re often talking to them about very specific problems. Here in Maine, you know, we’re very concerned PFAS in our soil, and we’re far ahead of other states. So, you get somebody in who can look at that directly and hear directly from the farmers, it makes a huge difference,” Pingree said.

The Deputy Secretary of Agriculture joined Pingree on a visit with organic farmersin Brunswick in June.

Pingree said, “Some of it is about policies that can be very hard to change if somebody in Washington doesn’t really get it.”

We met up with Pingree as she visited the Preble Street Food Security Hub, in South Portland, where the social services nonprofit assembles meals and grocery boxes to be distributed to people in need.

Though Republicans, including her opponent, Ed Thelander, argue excessive government spending has fueled inflation, Pingree defends the spending, especially the $4 trillion in coronavirus relief that included $1,400 checks last year and the Paycheck Protection Program.

Pingree said, “So many businesses in Maine, restaurants, people in the service industry, had to close down, couldn’t have gotten through it if they couldn’t have kept paying their employees.”

She also rejects the argument that simply pumping more oil will reduce energy prices.

Pingree said, “That’s the same line that we hear from the oil and gas companies, but the fact is it’s not working out right now. America’s got big production going on now, and we are still suffering from high prices.”

She’s focused on mitigating climate change by developing renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power.

“So, we’re no longer dependent on the Russians and the Middle Eastern people who we are in conflict with, who can change their policies at the drop of a hat,” Pingree said.

Pingree visited countries bordering Ukraine earlier this year and agreed with the Biden administration plan to admit 100,000 Ukrainian refugees displace by the Russian invasion.

She’s also advocated for asylum seekers from abroad — 1,900 people from 690 asylum-seeking families arrived in Portland in the past year – to be granted work permits 30 days after their arrival instead of being forced to wait six months.

She’s also introduced a bill to make federal student loans zero interest.

Pingree said, “Why does the government need to make money off of students who are already struggling?”

In the current Congress, Pingree voted for more police funding, such as $350 billion in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, along with the act’s police reforms, including banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants.

“That’s money to recruit, to train, to support those police departments in all of the needs that they have.” Pingree said. “There are police departments all over the country that are in need of that reform. When people watched what happened to George Floyd, they were concerned about chokeholds and some of the practices being used. We’ve heard from a police association and chiefs – this will make for better police departments. This is good in the long run.”

The bill passed the House but did not pass the Senate.

Pingree, 67, was a teenager when the Supreme Court issued it Roe vs. Wade decision finding a constitutional right to abortion.

Following the June decision overturning Roe, Pingree wants to restore and protect abortion rights.

“There’s only one way to fix this issue—we must elect pro-choice Democrats to Congress,” Pingree told the Maine Democratic Party Convention in May.

She is working to prevent further restrictions or bans on abortion.

Pingree said in her first debate with Thelander on October 12, “That’s a right women should have to discuss with their practitioners, their own families. That is not something that any politician should be meddling in.”


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