- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - Members of Maine’s politically mixed congressional delegation said Thursday they are concerned Republican President Donald Trump’s budget proposal will hurt families, businesses and economic security in the state.

Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, said Trump’s proposed cuts to heating assistance, medical research and economic development funding would present new burdens for Mainers. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat and a House Appropriations Committee member, said the proposal is “foolish” and “shortsighted” and will make Americans less healthy.

The only Republican senator from New England, Susan Collins, said there are “serious problems” with the budget’s approach to funding medical research and infrastructure. The sole New England Republican member of the House of Representatives, Bruce Poliquin, also expressed some reservations about the proposal.

Pingree said she is especially alarmed by a proposed cut of more than 20 percent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget.

“For those of us who know the impact these domestic cuts will have on the communities we serve, President Trump’s budget proposal is dead on arrival,” Pingree said.

Collins said she is particularly troubled by proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health. She also said there are highlights to the budget, such as increased funding for lead hazard control programs.

The NIH cuts “threaten to impede the important progress that has been made in our fight to develop treatments, means of prevention, and cures for diseases such as diabetes, ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, our nation’s most costly disease,” Collins said.

Poliquin echoed some concerns of his more liberal colleagues while praising a proposal for extra veterans help. He said he’s also skeptical of the need for significant reductions to Community Development Block Grant programs and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He said he plans to “thoroughly examine” the proposal in the coming months.

“I want to make sure we maintain support for programs and agencies that serve our families and communities, help protect our environment and provide quality programming for children,” he said.

King said cutting U.S. State Department funding by nearly one-third would jeopardize security.

“To me, this doesn’t seem like a serious attempt to offer a reasonable, cost-cutting budget - and, sadly, it’s hardworking, middle-class folks throughout the state who would bear the brunt of it all,” he said.

Trump has proposed a $1.15 trillion budget. The president and Congress will likely wrangle over the spending plan for weeks.

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