Poliquin not on petition to force Export-Import Bank vote

Good morning from Augusta, and happy Columbus Day. You’re probably not working today, so if you’re trying to decide whether or not Columbus is worth celebrating or not, give this piece on two myths about him a read.

After not signing Ex-Im petition, Poliquin still ‘likely yes’ vote on bank

On Friday, a bipartisan group of House Democrats and Republicans forced a vote on a bill that would revive the Export-Import Bank. That vote on the bank, which gives loans to foreign buyers of American goods and lapsed earlier this year, is set for Oct. 26, the New York Times reported.

More than 40 Republicans signed onto a rarely-used “discharge petition,” which forced the bill out of the House Financial Services Committee — where the committee chairman opposes the bank and has held onto the bill.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, however, wasn’t on the petition. He has taken heat for his past criticism of the bank, especially after General Electric Co. announced in September that if the agency wasn’t revived, it would move 500 future American jobs overseas, including 80 in Bangor.

Poliquin has been a critic of the bank. In a news release after the GE announcement, he called it “corporate welfare” that mostly benefits large companies. But he’s softened his tone a bit since then, offering amendments to bank legislation last week that he says would help him support renewing it and his office said he’ll be a “likely yes” vote.

This balancing act reflects that the bank is a key ideological issue for Republicans: Conservative members and groups led the charge against the bank earlier this year, saying it distorts free markets, but more moderate Republicans have split from them in the face of heavy lobbying efforts from business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Poliquin’s treading a thin line: He’s saying that he’s a likely yes vote, but a reason that he may not have wanted to sign the petition is that it took the bill out of the financial services committee, on which he serves.

But Democrat Emily Cain, who lost to Poliquin in 2014 and is running against Joe Baldacci for the nomination in 2016, criticized Poliquin in a Friday statement, saying GE’s Bangor workers “should know where Poliquin’s priorities are.”

On Friday, Poliquin said in a statement that there’s “a lot of activity surrounding this issue … that does not relate to the use of a discharge petition.”

“When the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, with much needed reforms, comes to the House floor at the end of the month, I will likely vote yes to protect Maine jobs and taxpayers,” he said. — Michael Shepherd

LePage taking roadshow to Lewiston

Gov. Paul LePage will be at Lewiston High School on Tuesday for his fourth town hall since September, following appearances in Farmington, Bucksport and Bar Harbor.

That last one, on Tuesday, got somewhat confrontational, according to the Mount Desert Islander. Rep. Brian Hubbell, D-Bar Harbor, stood at one point to challenge LePage after he said the Legislature wasn’t prioritizing drug enforcement.

Lewiston could also provide a fun atmosphere to watch LePage: It’s a highly polarized Democratic city that backed LePage in 2014 and is now in the midst of a mayoral race pitting Robert Macdonald, a conservative LePage ally, against liberal activist Ben Chin and three other candidates.

Bring the popcorn. — Michael Shepherd

Reading list

On Columbus Day, Maine state workers are among the lucky ones

You know how I said you’re probably not working on Columbus Day? Well, the Pew Research Center has an infographic to prove it.

Maine’s one of 23 states that give state workers a paid Columbus Day off. That makes it one of the most sparsely celebrated of the federal holidays.

We in the news business aren’t so lucky. So, bureaucrats, please return our calls and emails and we’ll catch you tomorrow. — Michael Shepherd


Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.