Rep. Jared Golden of Maine is part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. of Representatives that is trying to forge a deal to secure the southern border and provide military assistance to Ukraine – measures that are being blocked by Republican leaders of the House of Representatives.

A more ambitious package of border reforms and foreign assistance failed in the U.S. Senate last week after months of bipartisan negotiations. Only four Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine was among them, voted for it after former President Donald Trump called on the party to oppose the bill to boost his chances in the fall election.

Election 2022 Maine House

Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, speaks at a news conference in 2022, at the State House in Augusta. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press, file

The Senate then passed a narrower $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, but Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson refused to take it up before the House broke Friday for its winter recess.

Golden, a Democrat representing Maine’s 2nd District, told reporters Friday morning that the bill he is co-sponsoring is intended to break through opposition from leaders of both parties in the House by limiting the scope of the original bill and reducing the amount of foreign aid.

“This bill seeks to open up a new bipartisan conversation,” Golden said. “It’s five Democrats and five Republicans – many of us with a long history here of working together and being the types of members of Congress willing to set aside politics (and) defy our own leadership in order to create space for things to get done.”

Golden hopes a simpler approach will make it attractive to enough lawmakers on each side of the aisle for them to force a floor debate and vote that would allow for amendments, which could result in additional measures being added, such as humanitarian aid and faster work authorization for asylum seekers.


He believes there are enough lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to overcome Trump’s opposition to any deal that might politically benefit Biden this fall.

“I think there are a lot of people in the Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – who don’t think it’s in the best interest of the United States to wait close to a year to address the issues at our southern border,” he said. “I think it’s safe to say that most Americans would like Congress to do something today to stop the massive flow of people crossing the border illegally.”

The bill would authorize the Biden administration to close the border when deemed necessary and provide the border patrol with the ability to expel migrants without a hearing or review – a power granted under the Trump administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. Golden said his bill seeks to extend that authority to cases not involving a public health emergency.

The bill also would restore the so-called Remain in Mexico policy, which requires migrants who pass a credible-fear screening to remain in Mexico until their asylum hearing.

It provides $48 billion in military aid to Ukraine, which Golden, a former U.S. Marine, said is on the verge of a “complete battlefield collapse” as it continues its two-year fight to repel Russia’s invasion. It also would provide $10.4 billion in military aid to Israel, more than $5 billion to deter China in the Indo Pacific and $2.4 billion for the recent conflict in the Red Sea between the U.S. and the Iran-back Houthi militia.

The military funding and the border provisions would be in effect for only one year.


The $66 billion in funding is about two-thirds of the nearly $95 billion in spending called for in the Senate bill, which included $9.15 billion in humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, Israel and elsewhere around the globe.

The office of Rep. Chellie Pingree, Maine’s 1st District congresswoman, did not respond to a question about whether she would support Golden’s bill. Pingree has been pushing for legislation to allow asylum seekers to work within 30 days of filing their applications, rather than the current wait of six months.

The border bill voted down by the Senate contained a provision from Collins that would have granted work permits to asylum seekers immediately after passing an initial – and more rigorous – screening process.

Allowing asylum seekers to work sooner gained the support of national, state and local chambers of commerce as way to address widespread workforce shortages. And officials in Maine say the move also would allow asylum seekers to become self-sufficient sooner, reducing the financial strain on municipalities, which are required by state law to provide housing, food and other basic necessities for up to two years.

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