Congressman Jared Golden (D-ME) criticized the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that was passed in the House early Saturday morning and called for more bipartisanship in Washington, a move that comes less than 24 hours after he was one of two Democrats to vote against President Joe Biden’s first major legislative initiative.
In an interview with The Hill on Saturday after the House vote, Golden argued that the $1.9 trillion stimulus wasn’t sufficiently targeted and suggested that Democrats should have sought GOP support for it. “I like to often remind myself that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. It doesn’t mean that it’s in the best interest of the country,” said Golden.
“I guess I would say that I don’t think it was in the best interest of the country. I think that we have ended up with worse public policy as a result, rather than a more targeted bill that would come out of a bipartisan process,” he said.
The stimulus bill would provide $200 billion for public schools, $50 billion for COVID-19 vaccination distribution, contact tracing, and testing, and extend the weekly unemployment booster checks at $400 — instead of $300 — until the end of August of 2021. The bill would also provide a $1,400 stimulus payment to individuals who earn less than $75,000 per year and would provide $350 billion for states, local governments, and tribal governments.
Among Golden’s critiques were that the bill included funding for priorities that have already been funded through previous legislation, including “billions and billions”of dollars that have “yet to hit the economy,” reports The Hill. And by not targeting, suggested Golden, lawmakers were spending money that could have been used for other priorities.
“We need to get more and more targeted as we move forward here so that we have…the resources we need for other critical reforms that the American people also need us to step up and get done,” said Golden.
The final House vote was 219-212. One other Democrat, Congressman Kurt Schrader of Oregon, also voted against the bill. It will likely still be amended in the Senate, partly because Democrats included a provision to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour that the Senate parliamentarian previously said did not comport with the Senate rules.
Golden was also critical of the Senate passing the bill through the reconciliation process, the very process the rules of which will require Democrats to axe the $15 minimum wage hike in the House-passed bill. Under the reconciliation process, the Senate can pass legislation with a veto-proof simple majority, but the legislation has to follow highly specific and complex rules related to the budget.
While Democrats do have the votes to pass the stimulus bill without any GOP support if Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaker, Democrats can’t risk a single defection in the Senate in order to make that happen.
“I think that we also have to accept the fact that we are going to have to work with the Republican Party and that is the mandate that was delivered by voters across 50 states,” Golden told The Hill. “And there’s only so many times you can do budget reconciliation.”
Golden also warned that Democrats having passed the stimulus bill without GOP support could turn off Republican lawmakers from working with them in the future. “It poisoned the well a little bit so to speak,” he said.