Second District Rep. Jared Golden and a handful of his Democratic colleagues Friday effectively blocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to hold a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on the latest version of President Biden’s $1.75 billion social policy and climate change initiative.

Golden and several centrist colleagues insisted the vote be delayed until members of Congress have more time to read the freshly rewritten version of the president’s Build Back Better plan and for the Congressional Budget Office to have time to assess whether the revenue measures it proposes will pay for the bill’s initiatives to bolster child care supports for families, tax credits for parents, confront climate change, build affordable housing, and provide free, universal pre-K to 3- and 4-year-olds.

“I am just not going to take a vote of this magnitude without being able to trust-but-verify that the language in it reflects the agreements made and until we know the full budget implications,” Golden told the Press Herald via telephone from Capitol Hill.

“I care deeply about the details and I will stay at the table until we have a final product and then I will ask if this is a net benefit to the people of Maine. If the answer is ‘yes’ I will vote for it.”

It was unclear how many of Golden’s colleagues have taken the same position, but it was clear Friday afternoon that there were at least two others and that therefore the measure did not have enough votes to pass. Pelosi had wanted to pass Build Back Better and a bipartisan $1 billion infrastructure bill, but progressive Democrats stood firm in their own demands that the two measures be advanced in tandem.

The House ultimately passed the infrastructure bill late Friday night, with Golden voting in favor.

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Waiting for the CBO score would likely take some weeks at a time when many Democrats are frustrated that internal party disagreements have delayed the bills, which together represent the core of Biden’s agenda.

The measure has had the support of First District Rep. Chellie Pingree throughout the process. If it passes the House, it would need approval in the Senate, where independent Angus King has expressed provisional support and Republican Susan Collins has indicated opposition. The bill – paid for by increased taxes and tax enforcement on the very wealthy and corporations – was originally to be a $3 trillion package, but has been cut nearly in half because of resistance from two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema.

Golden said he believes Maine people actually do care about process, and that doing things right is essential for Congress to recapture public respect. He also responded to criticism – after a series of defections from his caucus on pandemic relief, police reform and other prominent bills – that he is allowing the perfect to be the enemy of the good.

“I recognize that when I make my final decision I will not be looking at a perfect product, but I will certainly try to get it to perfection,” he said. “Patience and resilience, and we are going to have to wait and see.”


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