Congressman Jared Golden speaks to the press at Husson University on Tuesday June 28, 2022. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

LISBON, Maine — U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District praised aspects of a new climate change bill that could soon pass the Senate, but he said he had not made a decision on how he would vote if it reached the House.

Golden, a Democrat who is running for reelection against former Rep. Bruce Poliquin, has resisted key elements of his party’s spending agenda over the past two years, voting against the American Rescue Plan Act in early 2021. Just a few days ago, he was one of only five House Democrats to vote against a ban on semiautomatic weapons.

He praised the bill’s provisions allowing Medicare to negotiate prices with drug companies, saying it was “probably one of the best parts of the bill” and would save Americans hundreds of billions of dollars and reduce costs for the program. He has long called for such a measure, sharing support for it with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, the new measure’s champion.

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“Our annual budget deficit is a real problem, so it’s nice to see a proposal out there that would actually reduce the deficit rather than increase it,” Golden said after meeting with police in Lisbon. “But I’ve got to really dig into it before I could suggest one way or another whether I’d support it.”

Golden said his staff was going through the over 700-page bill and would continue to do so as it goes through the Senate. Though Democrats are hoping to pass the $739 billion act by the end of the week, he was skeptical that that would happen, especially because it still needed to clear hurdles before it can be passed under the budget reconciliation process.

That process allows legislation to pass with a simple majority of senators rather than the 60 votes necessary to avoid a filibuster. It’s a vital measure for a bill that has received widespread criticism from Senate Republicans, including Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who said the deal would disrupt other bipartisan efforts, including one to to codify same-sex marriage rights.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has said the Manchin-led package is likely to cool down demand, reduce the risk of recession and amount to a small deficit reduction over a decade. But an analysis from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania found only a small effect on inflation.

Republicans have pointed to a congressional analysis that says the package would broadly raise taxes on Americans, but it does not take into account the benefits in other areas of the proposal. Business interests have assailed a 15 percent corporate minimum tax that would affect roughly the nation’s 200 biggest companies, those with $1 billion or more in income.

Hits on that subject have made it into the party’s early mobilization against the bill. In a Tuesday statement, Poliquin said there were “several provisions that are concerning” in the measure.

“We should be focusing on addressing inflation, reducing fuel costs, and getting the U.S. out of this recession before voting on a tax increase,” he said.

Golden’s comments came after a roundtable with members of law enforcement in Maine at Lisbon Town Hall, including Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson, Lisbon Police Chief Ryan McGee and Sabattus Police Chief Erik Baker.

BDN writer Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.