WASHINGTON — About 500 chimpanzees now living in government test labs may get second lives thanks to legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.

This past week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed a bill, S810, that phases out invasive government research on chimpanzees and will allow 500 government-owned chimps to be retired to sanctuaries. The move is projected to save the federal government $25 million a year.

Committee members added language that would still allow government researchers to conduct testing on chimps or other great apes to address new, emerging or re-emerging diseases. But bill supporters, including the Humane Society of the United States, said research on chimps is no longer necessary.

“This legislation provides the common-sense savings of approximately $25 million of taxpayer money, per year,” said Collins, one of three co-sponsors on the bipartisan bill. “The legislation also corrects the pain and psychological damage that apes often experience as a result of needless experiments and solitary confinement.”

The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Tax penalty or tax payment?

The Maine Republican Party’s July campaign finance filing with the Federal Election Commission contains several unusual expenditures.

The Maine GOP made three separate payments to the U.S. Treasury totaling $5,182.60 in April and June. In each case, the purpose of the expenditure is described as a “tax penalty” on the party’s quarterly report on fundraising and spending filed with the FEC.

It took several phone calls to find out what, exactly, those penalties were (citing confidentiality rules, the IRS wouldn’t discuss anything and GOP officials initially seemed unsure).

Ben Lombard, the recently elected treasurer of the Maine Republican Party, eventually said that the description was a mistake. Instead of penalties, they should be listed as payroll tax payments to the federal government, Lombard said. The GOP also made a $1,995.49 payroll tax payment to the Maine Treasurer on the same date that two of the “tax penalties” were paid to the feds.

Errors on campaign finance reports to the FEC or its state equivalent, the Maine Ethics Commission, are fairly common given the complexity of the law. And FEC documents show numerous instances in recent years in which the Maine Republican Party was required to amend its reports after FEC staff pointed out errors or gaps.

But the Maine GOP has also faced a number of internal financial problems in recent years, including a bookkeeper who was convicted of embezzling $50,000 in 2009 and a former treasurer, Philip Roy, who resigned after he moved around party money and federal dollars to allow him to purchase a camper. Lombard is also the third treasurer in three years.

Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster said in an interview that the party recently hired a company that specializes in campaign finance reports to assist with future filings.

Mainer a DC ‘most beautiful’

Skowhegan native Hayley King was all ablush on Wednesday.

That’s because King, a staffer in Sen. Olympia Snowe’s office, Wednesday was named one of the 50 most beautiful people working on Capitol Hill by The Hill, a daily publication that chronicles government and politics in Washington.

“It’s certainly flattering — probably one of the more flattering things that has happened to me,” said the 26-year-old legislative correspondent in Snowe’s office.

Growing up in Skowhegan, King lived across the street from the Margaret Chase Smith Library, where her mother worked. In fact, King credits Smith, who died in 1995, with sparking her interest in working in Washington.

“Being around this my whole life pushed me to look if Sen. Snowe had any openings,” she told The Hill in a bio posted on paper’s website.

Although she knew she was a contender, King didn’t know she made the most beautiful list until her excited mother called at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The rest of the day, King said, was full of congratulatory emails, text and Facebook messages — and “a lot of blushing.”

You can see The Hill story about King at http://tinyurl.com/cne3shg.

For Congress, tick tock

This week is widely regarded as the last chance for Congress to accomplish anything substantial — or substantive — before the November election.

After this past week, Congress will officially be in session for 17 more legislative days before voters head to the polls to decide who wins the White House and which party (or parties) will control the House and Senate.

Members of Congress will leave town for their five-week August break on Friday and don’t have to return to Capitol Hill until Sept. 10. They meet for a week and a half in September and just one week in October.

Yet with the elections looming, the public can expect to see plenty of politicking and posturing but not much actual work being done during that time.

DC Notebook is compiled and written by MaineToday Media Washington bureau chief Kevin Miller.

 

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