Golden Statement on Vote Against $1.9 Trillion Legislative Package

  • Rental assistance: On a bipartisan basis, Congress approved $25 billion in rental assistance only two months ago, and just yesterday Maine officials announced it was ready to begin accepting applications for the $200 million that was allocated to our state for this purpose. Additional rental assistance may be warranted in the future, but it is not necessary at this time.
  • Food assistance: In December, I joined with my colleagues to extend a 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through June 30, 2021. The bill we are voting on today provides no additional enhancements to that current policy, but instead further extends the 15 percent increase until September 30, 2021. I am certainly open to supporting additional food assistance after June 30, should the circumstances warrant it, but I believe Congress should make that decision when the moment requires it.
  • Child care assistance: This bill devotes $40 billion to child care assistance. Just two months ago, Congress allocated $10 billion in additional child care assistance to states. Maine only received its allocation on February 4. As with other programs, I believe it is irresponsible to quadruple our investment before we more fully release existing funds and determine what will be needed to help us through the final stages of the pandemic.
  • Aid to state and local governments: Over the past year, I have supported $150 billion in aid to states and localities, a critical investment that has helped Maine weather some of the worst periods of the pandemic. As a result of these investments and quick and responsible leadership by Governor Janet Mills, Maine has now been presented with a two-year budget proposal by the governor that is balanced and that makes key investments in education and public health and sets money aside for the state’s Rainy Day Fund. Just this week, the state announced its revenue projections are up $154 million over projections for the first seven months of this fiscal year. While some additional aid may be warranted, the $350 billion authorized by this bill far exceeds the actual budget gaps confronting states and localities. I hope that the Senate chooses to better target this funding.
  • Schools: This legislation devotes $170 billion to primary and secondary schools and colleges. It has been said this funding is necessary to reopen schools. However, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that less than 8 percent of this funding will be spent before the end of this school year, and only about a third in the next two years. I have heard from school systems in Maine that have yet to spend the entirety of federal aid provided to them in previous COVID legislation in 2020. Making sure our kids can be back in the classroom full time, in a safe environment for both students and educators is critical but is not a problem that can be solved by simply increasing funding.The CDC has set a standard for safety, and fully reopened K-12 schools are not a possibility in many communities until our vaccine program has eliminated the threat of community spread.
  • Small businesses: I have also supported COVID assistance for small businesses in need, and my office has worked tirelessly to connect Maine small businesses owners with the resources they need to weather the pandemic. Importantly, $144 billion remains available for disbursement from the Paycheck Protection Program, and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant that Congress authorized in December has yet to open for applications.
  • Direct payments: This bill allocates $1,400 direct checks to individuals making up to $75,000 and married couples making up to $150,000, with phased-down checks for households with incomes as high as $200,000. Under this bill, it is estimated that over 90 percent of Maine tax filers would receive a check from the federal government. While those who have lost jobs or had hours reduced ought to receive income support, it is a waste to send a third round of government checks to wealthy individuals making almost three times the average household salary in Maine’s Second Congressional District. The data shows that among higher-income households, many of the direct checks sent in December were deposited into savings. That money would be better spent on continued unemployment assistance for those who have lost jobs to this pandemic.

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Congressman Jared Golden

Congressman Jared Golden

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Jared Golden represents Maine’s 2nd District in the U.S. Congress. He serves on the House Small Business Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.