Rep. Jared Golden, the only U.S. House Democrat to vote against his party’s $2 trillion social policy and climate bill late last year, joined with Rep. Chellie Pingree and other Democrats Friday to pass a smaller version of the bill that still contains massive investments in environmental and social programs.

Maine Democratic Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree

The high-profile legislation, which invests $437 billion but raises an estimated $737 billion in new revenue, got through Congress without a single Republican vote. It is now headed to President Biden for his signature.

It passed the Senate 51-50 on Monday with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie, and was approved in the House late Friday afternoon also on a party-line vote. Democrats had a four-vote majority in that chamber, so Golden’s vote was never expected to make or break the bill, but his vote was being closely watched in Maine because the congressman is in what is expected to be a closely contested re-election race against Bruce Poliquin, the former two-term Republican he defeated to join Congress in 2018.

Golden, D-2nd District, told the Press Herald Friday afternoon that he was supporting the bill – dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act – precisely because its lack of resemblance to last year’s failed Build Back Better bill, which had been the centerpiece of Biden’s domestic agenda.

“Part of the reason why I’m supporting this bill is because it is not Build Back Better by any means,” Golden said. “I agree with (West Virginia Sen.) Joe Manchin who says Build Back Better is dead.”

Pingree, D-1st District, voted in support of the bill late Friday afternoon calling it “a historic victory for our environment, our farmers and ranchers, working families, and the overall health of Americans.” She noted that every Republican in the House and Senate had voted against the bill which she described as “once again choosing politics over people.”


The bill includes the largest-ever single investment in combating climate change – primarily through incentives for consumers to shift to cleaner energy technologies – programs to cap and lower drug costs to seniors, and, at the insistence of Manchin, expanded oil and gas leases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. It will actually reduce the federal deficit by cracking down on wealthy tax cheats, imposing a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations, and reducing Medicare costs by allowing the federal program to negotiate prescription drug prices.

Golden said he supported the inclusion of the measures boosting fossil fuel production because it would boost U.S. energy independence, lower prices for consumers, and ensure the country doesn’t need to rely on Russia, Saudi Arabia and other oil producers.

“The entire energy policy was drafted by Joe Manchin’s office and it has a huge portion about increasing domestic oil and gas production,” he said. “It takes the renewable energy-focused policies of Build Back Better and our existing renewable energy tax credit portfolio and makes them energy neutral and technology neutral.”

Asked if he was concerned about the climate effects of encouraging new offshore fossil fuel production he said, “If you’re hostile to the use of oil and gas, I guess you would say that’s not good, but I’m not and I’d say most of my constituents are not.”

Golden said he also was pleased that the bill did not include a measure that would largely benefit millionaires. The measure, known as SALT relief, was one of the primary reasons he voted against Build Back Better and would have overturned a $10,000 cap on the amount of deductions federal taxpayers can take for state and local taxes they have paid, including property taxes.

He also highlighted how the bill would help reduce medical and drug costs for Maine seniors and fight inflation by reducing the federal deficit by almost $300 billion.



“It’s good tax policy,” he said. “It’s the first major piece of legislation in over a decade that would actually reduce our nation’s deficit spending.”

In the Senate, independent Sen. Angus King voted with the rest of the Democratic caucus in support of the bill, while Republican Sen. Susan Collins joined all her colleagues in voting against it.

Maine Republican Party Executive Director Jason Savage attacked Golden for supporting the bill, claiming it would make Mainers’ “high costs” become “even higher.” Asked by the Press Herald in what way the bill would raise costs to Mainers, Savage said via email that increased taxes on corporations would be passed on to Maine consumers in the form of price increases, and renewable energy incentives would increase energy costs.

“This is a partisan vote for a bad partisan bill at a time when Mainers absolutely can’t afford it,” Savage said in his statement. “They’re spending billions on green special interests while Mainers are worried about heating their homes.”

Poliquin’s campaign released a statement claiming Golden had “voted to raise taxes on working Mainers,” though it was not clear what tax raise it was referring to. “A moderate would not do this,” the campaign statement said. “Jared Golden has demonstrated that he is beholden to Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party.”

Golden has bucked his caucus in a number of high-profile votes since being elected to Congress in 2018, including on Donald Trump’s first impeachment, the George Floyd police reform bill, the closure of gun background check loopholes, the COVID-19 relief bill and Pelosi’s candidacy as House speaker. His positions have frustrated progressives but didn’t hurt him with his constituents, who sent him back to Congress by 9 percentage points last November, even as they supported Trump’s unsuccessful re-election bid by 7 percentage points.

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