In this Aug. 20, 2020, file photo, U.S. Rep. Jared Golden talks with fellow hikers on the top of Black Mountain in Rumford. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

Good morning from Augusta.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Be better as individuals,” said Tahmoor Khan of Bangor, a Pakistani-American whose car was vandalized with racist graffiti over the weekend. “Be better as human beings.”

What we’re watching today

The moderate group reached an impasse with Democratic leaders over the order in which to pass key spending bills. Nine House Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District, have said for weeks that they would not vote to advance a Democratic-led budget resolution until after the chamber approves the $1 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate earlier this month. Last night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, delayed a scheduled procedural vote amid the impasse with those members.

Golden and his group show no signs of yielding. They doubled down on their stance this weekend with a Washington Post opinion piece, arguing that the bipartisan bill is a sure thing and that linking it to a bill that must win all 50 Democratic senators to pass risks it. (The counterpoint from liberals, outlined here by the Portland Press Herald’s Greg Kesich, is that the moderate group is actually endangering the package because progressives may revolt if a larger Democratic spending proposal that could reach $3.5 trillion does not pass.)

The fight is also seen as an attempt to gain the upper hand in negotiations on what is included in the final Democratic proposal. Some of the moderates have balked at the amount of spending in the larger bill that would expand the safety net, provide for free preschool and community college and fund climate goals, but they say they are open to considering it.

The House is scheduled to come back on Tuesday to vote on a rule governing the process of passing the bills, per Punchbowl News. But it is unclear what that will contain after Democrats were unable to reach an agreement on Monday, the first day back from recess, after hopes that they might advance one or both of the bills. There will have to be another approach today.

The Maine politics top 3

— “Maine school boards bear brunt of COVID-19 politics with few mandates to guide them,” Jessica Piper, Bangor Daily News: “While schools consider mask policies, COVID-19 cases have risen sharply in Maine over the past few weeks and hospitalizations have more than quadrupled. Infections among children have climbed too, with an average of about 30 children testing positive per day last week, a rate more than five times higher than last August.”

A miscalculated vote will mean one Hampden-area school district will have to reconsider its masking decisions. The Regional School Unit 22’s board’s vote to make masking optional was thrown off by a data entry error, causing the calculation that determines a vote — each member’s vote is weighted by the number of students they represent in their district — to be thrown off. The board meets tonight to determine what to do next.

— “Maine EMS regulator votes to give workers 2 more weeks to meet vaccine mandate,” Piper, BDN: “The bulletin ultimately adopted by the EMS board on Monday excluded only emergency dispatch centers as employers covered by the vaccine requirement, noting dispatchers do not have contact with patients. The board said it would also not enforce proof of vaccination until Oct. 15, two weeks longer than the deadline for vaccination is set to begin.”

— “GOP lawmaker says wife who died of COVID-19 didn’t get vaccine due to ‘conflicting information’,” Steve Mistler, Maine Public: “Chris Johansen’s attendance [at an anti-mandate rally] has drawn a combination of contempt and bewilderment, yet is consistent with the couples’ outspoken resistance to public health precautions throughout the pandemic, including the COVID-19 vaccines that health officials say are highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and death.”

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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