When U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania took to Twitter on Thursday evening to attack a pandemic measure pushed by Democrats, he declared that Lewiston and Bangor were among six cities slated to get extra funding.

A Thursday tweet from U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, congratulated Lewiston for making the cut for extra transit aid.

Toomey, a Republican, declared that his staff had “begun scrubbing” the text and had found “tens of billions of dollars in ‘gifts’ from the American taxpayer” to items he opposed.

In the midst of his list, Toomey wrote, “Congratulations to the good people of Abilene, TX, Weirton, WV, Steubenville, OH, Bangor, ME, Lewiston, ME, and Woodland, CA. Of the 600 urbanized transit program recipients, you’ve been chosen to get extra cash.”

He cited a section of the bill that relates to transit funding, but the bureaucratic language itself is hard to decipher, referring to how $26 billion in transportation funding should be divvied up.

The provision allows money for urbanized areas “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus that are equal to or greater than 130% of the urbanized area’s 2018 operating costs but do not exceed 132% of such costs” and that “such urbanized area shall receive an apportionment equal to 10% of the urbanized area’s 2018 operating costs, in addition to amounts apportioned to the urbanized area under clause (i).”

Toomey’s staff somehow figured that meant more money for a handful of cities, including Lewiston, but efforts to have anyone else explain it Friday met with no success.

Jennifer Williams, transportation director for the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, expressed surprise at the idea more funds might be in the $1.9 trillion measure the Senate is considering.

“This is the first we have heard/seen anything about Lewiston-Auburn receiving ‘extra funds in this bill,'” Williams wrote in reply to a question.

“At this point, we don’t even know how much funds we would be receiving in the initial apportionment, and really won’t know until the bill is passed,” Williams said. “We are just waiting for the final bill and the Federal Register is published to determine our allocations.”

Neither the offices of U.S. Sens. Susan Collins nor Angus King, who represent Maine, responded to a question about the provision Friday.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.