Since she was first elected in 1996, Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) has been a champion of her state’s military installations and communities recovering from BRAC actions.
Her longstanding support for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has resulted in the Navy spending tens of millions of dollars to upgrade its facilities. Funding to consolidate the shipyard’s structural shops was moved up to the Navy’s fiscal 2014 budget following a Navy report on improving the infrastructure needs of its four public shipyards. The report, requested by Collins in an earlier defense authorization bill, previously spurred the Navy to commit to provide $100 million to upgrade the shipyard’s infrastructure.
During the 2005 round of base closures, she was played a key role in her state’s successful effort to overturn the Pentagon’s recommendation to close Portsmouth.
Collins also has sought to improve opportunities for the Air National Guard’s 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor. Navy shipbuilding has been another priority for the three-term senator, who has fought for increased funding for ships built at Bath Iron Works, Maine’s largest private employer.
Since BRAC 2005, Collins has acted to support the development of Brunswick Landing, the reuse project at the former Naval Air Station Brunswick. Legislation she introduced last year was intended to make it easier for tenants located at installations closed during the last round to qualify for the HUBZone program, a Small Business Administration initiative offering preferential access to federal procurements to businesses in distressed areas.
The measure would expand the geographic boundaries of HUBZones at BRAC sites to include the town or county where the installation is located. The law now defines the boundaries of those HUBZones as the borders of the closed base, making it extremely difficult for companies to meet the criteria requiring 35 percent of their employees to live within the HUBZone.
Collins continues to push the legislation this year.
For her advocacy on behalf of the missions of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine’s other defense facilities and for BRAC communities across the nation, ADC is awarding Collins one of its Congressional Leadership Awards. Award winners will be recognized at a special ceremony on Capitol Hill next month during the Defense Communities National Summit.