Maine Democratic Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree

The two Democrats who represent Maine in the U.S. House split Friday on whether to support a $3 trillion pandemic relief measure called the Heroes Act.

While the 1st District’s Chellie Pingree joined the majority in passing the measure, 2nd District U.S. Rep. Jared Golden opposed it as a “missed opportunity to make bipartisan progress.”

Golden was one of 10 Democrats on the losing side of a 208-199 vote that saw only one Republican join the majority in approving a bill panned by both President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.

Supporters said it’s a first step in setting the terms of the next round of assistance to deal with the coronavirus. The act calls for $875 billion for states and cities, more than $100 billion to support education, a jobless benefits extension and more aid for individuals, including another $1,200 for most Americans.

In a prepared statement, Pingree said that “a crisis of this magnitude deserves a serious, comprehensive response from the federal government” that “addresses many complex elements of the current public health and economic crisis, and will protect the health of Americans while making sure they have the resources to provide for their families.”

Golden said he supports many of the provisions in the bill, but views it as a measure that “moves us no closer to delivering” the help that so many people and businesses need.

Golden, who knocked out an incumbent Republican two years ago to win his seat, represents a rural district that voted for Trump by a wide margin in 2016. It is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic-held districts in the country, with three Republicans vying in a July 14 primary for the chance to take him on come November.

Even so, Golden said in a prepared statement that voting against the measure pushed by Democratic leaders was “a difficult decision” for him.

In the end, though, he opposed it because backers expanded its terms “beyond core, urgent needs” to include “a series of unrelated provisions.”

Golden said the nation’s economy “is still in freefall,” with businesses reeling and millions of Americans without jobs, some without health care as well. States, including Maine, “are facing the consequences of massive budget shortfalls, including even more lost jobs, cuts to our schools and a reduction in critical services” while simultaneously facing the need for more testing and more personal protective equipment for those on the front line.

“It’s because these challenges are so great that I strongly believe that now is the time for unifying leadership from both houses of Congress and a serious effort to reach an agreement,” the Lewiston Democrat said.

“Unfortunately,” he added, the response of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and many of his colleagues “has been to say that we should sit back and allow states and towns to go bankrupt. That is an irresponsible approach and shows a disturbing lack of understanding of the depth of the economic crisis we face.”

Golden said the Senate “needs to stop dragging its feet and come to the table to fix and build upon the CARES Act” approved in March that got the ball rolling for federal help.

The best way to get that done, he said, “isn’t to pass a massive bill packed with unrelated, partisan provisions, it’s to demonstrate leadership from the House by making a genuine effort to reach a bipartisan agreement.”

Golden said the initial measures to respond to the pandemic were nearly unanimous and bipartisan.

“Today’s bill deliberately abandons that approach and makes more difficult the type of compromise that will be required to deliver the support our country needs,” he said. “Together we can prevail, but only if we leave our partisan corners, put the country first, and work together to address this crisis. Today’s bill achieves none of those things.”


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