In this April 27, 2019, file photo, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Maine's 2nd District, speaks in Bath. Credit: David Sharp / AP

Good morning from Augusta.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’re at a point where we don’t want to be landlords, and if you’re going to try to sell, now’s the time,” said Anna Boucher, who is selling her family’s 50-acre property in Pittston, which includes four single-family homes, a duplex, three other apartments, an early 19th-century church and multiple garages, shops and barns. It is listed at $5.5 million. Here’s your soundtrack.

What we’re watching today

A group of moderate Democrats is setting up a fight over when the House might take up an infrastructure bill passed by the Senate earlier this week. Nine representatives, including Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, saying they would not consider voting for a budget bill — which the Senate is still working on — until after the House passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

The letter, teased this week but first published by CNN, does not come as a surprise. Golden and nine other representatives wrote to Pelosi last month encouraging the speaker to vote on the infrastructure bill immediately once it passed the Senate rather than wait for the budget bill, which is expected to pass along partisan lines using budget reconciliation.

Pelosi, however, has indicated over the past few months that she would wait for both bills to pass the Senate before voting on either, a move applauded by progressive members of her caucus who view the infrastructure bill as insufficient. Delaying the infrastructure bill could put pressure on Senate Democrats to approve a budget bill more palatable for progressives, though moderate senators have already indicated wariness of the proposed $3.5 trillion topline.

The conflict puts House Democrats in a tricky spot. They will need nearly every Democratic vote to pass the eventual budget bill. But they will also need progressive votes to get the infrastructure bill through. The House returns from August recess the week after next, so Pelosi has until then to work with members of her caucus and make a deal.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Maine’s southern population shift will remake state politics,” Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News: “But the diverging trends in different parts of the state still reflect the phenomenon of the so-called ‘two Maines,’ with southern and coastal parts of the state growing while typically lower-income inland towns lose population. The redrawing of districts is likely to make the 2nd District marginally more Democratic. Many legislative districts will see substantial changes after redistricting, which will shift the state’s political conversation.”

The headlines out of the census in Maine were the growth in Cumberland and York counties and a sharp increase in diversity. Maine’s meager population growth of 2.6 percent — or 34,000 people — over the last 10 years was virtually all in the two southernmost counties, while all rural rim counties saw losses. The state remains the whitest in the nation with 90.2 percent of people identifying as white and non-Hispanic, but the nonwhite population grew by 75 percent and every county got more diverse over the last decade.

— “Maine will be one of the 1st states to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for health workers,” Caitlin Andrews, BDN: “The new standards are among the strictest in the nation. Maine will not have a testing alternative for those who refuse vaccines like ones instituted recently in California and Oregon. Washington issued more stringent rules similar to Maine’s this week. There is a medical exemption in Maine law for people whose doctors deem immunization ‘medically inadvisable.’”

The state will likely stick with the federal guidelines around masking as cases continue to rise. Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah said last Monday that the agency was considering moving away from federal recommendations for masking, which is based on the level of community transmission seen in a county. But Shah changed his tune on Thursday, noting the trend in cases was “unfortunately uniformly in one direction” with 15 of 16 counties under the guidelines as of Thursday. That, he said, reduces confusion around daily changes, “but not in a way that we would have liked.”

Severely immunocompromised Mainers could soon be eligible for a third COVID-19 booster shot. The Food and Drug Administration authorized another dose late Thursday for a limited group of people, including cancer patients, people with HIV and organ transplant recipients. The decision followed evidence from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that immunocompromised people represented 44 percent of COVID-19 breakthrough hospitalizations despite being less than 3 percent of the U.S. population.

— “Firm behind Pickett Mountain mine proposal plans test drilling at Down East site,” Bill Trotter, BDN: “Wolfden Resources Corp., based in Ontario, is exploring the possibility of mining for silver at the closed Big Hill mine in Pembroke, off Route 214. The company said drilling and ground surveys at the site, which it calls ‘Big Silver,’ could start next month, depending on how geophysical surveys progress at similar prospective sites across the border in New Brunswick.”

Today’s Daily Brief was written by Caitlin Andrews and Jessica Piper and edited by Michael Shepherd. If you’re reading this on the BDN’s website or were forwarded it, you can sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every weekday morning here.

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