WASHINGTON — Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud split over the vote to extend the payroll tax cut extension and extend unemployment benefits.

Michaud, D-2nd District, backed the House-passed bill, but Pingree, D-1st District, voted no.

Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe both voted yes in the Senate.

“At a time when many of our communities continue to face high unemployment, it is critical that Mainers do not see their payroll taxes go up or their federal unemployment benefits expire,” said Michaud in a statement, adding that more than 17,300 Mainers would have lost their unemployment benefits if the bill didn’t pass.

But Pingree criticized the bill for scaling back how long workers can receive long-term unemployment benefits and she also said the legislation scales back retirement benefits for federal workers.

“The offsets in this bill should have been a surtax on millionaires, not asking federal workers to pay more and cutting unemployment benefits for families that are struggling to find work,” Pingree said in a statement.

Collins and Snowe both cited the importance of extending the payroll tax cut, but neither was happy that the extension increases the federal deficit.

“Ultimately, it was critical to ensure that individuals and small businesses will not face a tax increase, while those millions of Americans seeking a job will continue to receive temporary assistance to help them get by,” Snowe said in a statement.

“I do not want taxes to be raised on working Americans at a time when so many families are struggling, and the economy remains too fragile,” Collins said in a statement. “I am, however, disappointed that conferees were not able to reach an agreement on a bill to extend the payroll tax cut that was fully paid for.”

Jonathan Riskind — 791-6280

[email protected]

Twitter: MaineTodayDC


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