Maine’s two Democratic U.S. House members issued sharp criticism in recent days of proposals approved by the new Republican majority.

The handful of measures approved by the GOP, which have little chance of winning support in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate, focused on issues popular with Republican voters, from abortion restrictions to paring the Internal Revenue Service.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, vowed in his first address after winning the job in the 15th round of voting last week that “our very first bill will repeal the funding for 87,000 IRS agents,” a reference to the money allocated in a funding bill approved with Republican support in the Senate that aims to improve the ability of the IRS to cope with a growing backlog of returns and beef up its capacity to audit wealthy individuals and corporations.

“We believe government should be here to help you, not go after you,” McCarthy said of the measure, though the IRS commissioner vowed his agency won’t increase its auditing of people earning less than $400,000 annually.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, who has represented Maine’s 1st District since 2009, said on Twitter that the House Republicans’ “very first bill would help the wealthiest Americans cheat on their taxes and increase the deficit. Shameful!”

The measure passed this week on a 221-210 party line vote.


Another party line vote this week established a new Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which is meant to investigate federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, who is in his third term representing Maine’s 2nd District, castigated Republican lawmakers for pushing the probe.

“We should not grant lawmakers the authority to undermine the work of law enforcement officials, let alone insert themselves into ongoing investigations focused on their own activity,” Golden said in a written statement.

“This committee opens the door to corruption and abuse of power and flies in the face of the separation of powers as it is enshrined in the Constitution,” the Lewiston Democrat added.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, told colleagues that 13-member panel is needed because “we have witnessed abuses of the civil liberties of American citizens committed by the executive branch” in recent years.

He said the committee, due to report its findings in two years, “will bring abuses by the federal government into the light for the American people and ensure that Congress, as their elected representatives, can take appropriate action to remedy them.”


The House also approved two bills this week favored by those who want to see abortions restricted.

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, said the congressional GOP is “sending a unified message to the entire country and the world: Our new House majority stands for life.”

Pingree said the reality is that “in every state in America, a majority of people support abortion access” and the passage by House Republicans of anti-abortion measures “is completely out of touch with the message voters sent at the ballot box last fall.”

She said voters across the country “made it abundantly clear” at the polls in November that they support abortion rights.

Among the ballot measures voters acted on in November were a constitutional change in Michigan that guaranteed protection for abortion and pregnancy care and the rejection of a proposal in Kentucky that would have explicitly stated in its constitution that residents don’t have a right to choose an abortion.

Pingree also assailed rules changes in the House that she said “will make it much harder for Congress to work for the people.”


She said the changes, which include concessions made by McCarthy to win over hardliners in his quest to become speaker, show “that extremists are setting” the GOP’s agenda, not McCarthy.

One of those concessions was to allow just one lawmaker to force a vote on ousting the speaker, according to reporting from NPR. The full scope of the concessions hasn’t been made public yet.

“He didn’t have the votes to be speaker so he made concession after concession to a radical wing of his caucus just to hold the gavel,” Pingree said on Twitter.

McCarthy said, though, that as speaker, “my ultimate responsibility is not to my party, my conference, or even our Congress. My responsibility, our responsibility, is to our country.”

Golden offered his thoughts about the new Congress in the wake of McCarthy’s election early Saturday, including his take on the selection by Democrats of U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York to serve as their new party leader.

“Since 2018, I have consistently called for a new generation of leaders for the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives,” said Golden, who twice voted against the choice of U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California to serve as speaker.


This year, Golden backed his party’s choice to serve as minority leader.

“Congressman Jeffries represents a new generation of leadership. It is my hope that he will bring a style of leadership to Washington that is thoughtful and respectful to each individual member of the caucus,” Golden said. “Our country is best served by a Congress with leadership that empowers members to represent their constituents.”

Golden said he didn’t say anything about the GOP’s difficult selection process that led to McCarthy’s elevation as speaker “out of respect for process and because regardless of the party in power, the people deserve an organized congress with a speaker at the helm.”

He said the lengthy debate and repeated votes “seemed difficult, even messy, but I believe that many of my colleagues across the aisle have done their best to organize the House following the 2022 election that has delivered them the majority.”

“It is my sincere hope that they will govern our country responsibly, and I look forward to working with them in a bipartisan way,” Golden said.

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