Rep. Jared Golden of Maine was the only Democrat in Congress to break with his party and vote against the COVID-19 relief bill on Wednesday, arguing that a more-targeted approach would have saved money that is needed to invest in the nation’s infrastructure and health care system.

Golden, who represents the state’s 2nd District, joined members of the Republican Party, including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, in voting against the $1.9 trillion rescue package. Republicans characterized the bill as bloated and crammed with liberal policies.

The two other members of Maine’s congressional delegation, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, and Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, supported the package, which provides up to $1,400 direct payments to most adults, extends $300 per week emergency unemployment benefits into early September, provides aid to schools struggling to reopen during the pandemic and provides funds to local governments trying to compensate for a decrease in revenues.

Golden, in a statement issued Wednesday, said his vote should not be construed as “an unwillingness to support my constituents and the economy through this pandemic.” He said he supports a more targeted bill aimed at extending unemployment benefits, funding vaccine distribution and increasing investment in public health infrastructure.

“Borrowing and spending hundreds of billions more in excess of meeting the most urgent needs poses a risk to both our economic recovery and the priorities I would like to work with the Biden administration to achieve, like rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and fixing our broken and unaffordable healthcare system,” Golden said.

Democrats, including Maine Gov. Janet Mills, praised the American Rescue Plan.

Mills issued a statement describing the American Rescue Plans as landmark legislation, saying it will protect public health, vaccinate more Maine people and drive the state’s economic recovery.

“Federal support continues to be critical in Maine’s fight against the pandemic,” the governor said.

Golden and Collins were sharply criticized Wednesday by the Maine Service Employees Association for voting against the American Rescue Plan. The MSEA represents more than 13,000 Maine workers.

“Congressman Jared Golden and Senator Susan Collins let all of us down with their votes against the American Rescue Plan,” Allison Perkins, MSEA vice president, said in a statement.

This is not the first time that Golden has broken ranks with his fellow Democrats. During the first impeachment of former President Donald Trump, Golden was the only House member to issue a split decision on the two articles of impeachment.

Golden, 38, represents a district that takes up almost four-fifths of Maine’s land area. It’s one of the most rural districts in the United States, and it’s geographically the largest district in the country east of the Mississippi River. The 2nd Congressional also is a swing district that is home to many members of the state’s traditional industries, such as timber and lobster fishing. It was the sole congressional district in New England to support Trump in the 2020 election.


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