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Politics

Golden was the sole Democrat to vote against Build Back Better Act

Jared Golden
David Sharp/AP
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AP
In April 27, 2019, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, speaks during a ceremony for a Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer named for former President Lyndon Baines Johnson in Bath, Maine. Golden is facing re-election in November 2020.

Maine Congressman Jared Golden was the only Democrat in the U.S. House to vote against the roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better spending plan on Friday. Golden says there is a lot in the social spending bill that he enthusiastically supports, from free nationwide preschool to allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. And he says he is open to changing his vote if the Senate sends back a modified bill, as expected.

But to get his vote, Golden says fellow Democrats will have to eliminate or adjust a tax exemption that disproportionately benefits wealthy homeowners. He calls it his "absolute, key red line" on the bill.

"I'm not going to vote for a bill that late in its development suddenly has added to it a $285 billion tax break for millionaires that is literally the largest portion of the bill. It is more money for millionaires than we give to help children, seniors, more than health care provisions to make health care more affordable," Golden says.

Golden is referring to a provision that would allow homeowners to deduct up to $80,000 in state and local taxes from their federal taxes. Democrats from states with high property values and high property taxes — such as New York, New Jersey and California — lifted the tax deduction from $10,000 to $80,000. But the provision wasn't included in President Biden’s original proposal, and senators are discussing changes to ensure the deduction only benefits middle-income families.

But Maine's other House member, 1st District Democrat Chellie Pingree, says she voted for Build Back Better with “immense pride."

Pingree compared the bill to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal in terms of benefits for working families. She says that in addition to providing universal preschool and extending the child tax credit, the bill would establish universal paid family and medical leave. It also caps how much senior citizens pay for prescription drugs under Medicare. And Pingree says bill contains historic investments to address climate change — $555 billion over 10 years.

-"It's very broad. It deals with a lot of problems that have challenged us for a very long time. And it is an enormous investment in our country's future," Pingree says.

The Senate could vote on its version of the bill before Christmas.