Oregon’s Kurt Schrader and Maine’s Jared Golden crossed party lines and voted to reject the stimulus bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, which would provide $1,400 checks to millions of Americans.
The bill also contains a provision to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 but this may be stripped out by the Senate after the chamber’s parliamentarian ruled the measure could not be included.
Golden, who represents Maine’s 2nd congressional district, has argued that finalizing the stimulus package will take weeks and the House should approve funding for vaccines and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) first.
“We need to walk and chew gum. And when it comes to investments that can speed up vaccination programs and our capacity to test around the country, that should go first,” Golden said, according to the Bangor Daily News.
“We should simultaneously be able to continue building a response plan to other needs out there like the looming deadline for unemployment. But these things shouldn’t be mutually exclusive,” he said.
Golden has served in Congress since 2019 and has been arguing for weeks that the budget reconciliation process will take too long while urgent action is needed to tackle the pandemic. He also opposed passing a stimulus package without bipartisan support.
Early on Saturday, Golden posted a link on Twitter to a statement on his vote against the stimulus bill. However, at the time of writing no such statement was available at the web address provided, as several social media users were pointing out.
Schrader has represented Oregon’s 5th congressional district since 2009. In December, he was one of just wo Democrats who voted against increasing stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000.
He told KATU News the move “was very hasty, not as well-thought-out by a long shot, and doubled-down on the least-effective, most non-targeted program we considered.”
“We’re in a different point in the crisis,” Schrader said in December. “When we were first dealing with COVID, we had no idea what it was. It was scary. Businesses were shut down. Folks were told to stay at home. We had no idea what we were facing. The goal with the checks and the rest of the program was to just to show America that congress had their back.”
Schrader had not issued a statement explaining his Friday vote at the time of writing. Both Golden and Schrader are members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.
Jared Golden and Kurt Schrader have been asked for comment on this article.