More than a dozen lawmakers led by U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of the 2nd District sent a letter to congressional leaders Thursday, urging them to resume negotiations over a coronavirus relief bill that have been at an impasse since relief programs expired at July’s end.
Citing the more than 170,000 Americans who have died from the virus and the more than 30 million people out of work, the letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, characterizes lawmakers’ impasse over a bill as “unacceptable and is a failure of duty to the American people.”
The letter was signed by eight Republicans and 10 Democrats, including several freshman legislators from swing districts, such as Golden, who is running against businessman and former state Rep. Dale Crafts, R-Lisbon, in the November election.
Lawmakers left Washington last week after several weeks of failed negotiations over another coronavirus stimulus package. Congress has not passed significant relief legislation since the end of March. Expanded unemployment benefits and liability protection for employers were among the sticking points in earlier negotiations.
President Donald Trump addressed several of those issues with executive actions earlier this month, but many states including Maine are unclear on how to implement the unemployment provisions of the president’s order, which would provide an additional $300 weekly in federal funding for workers receiving benefits.
The House is reconvening this weekend to address delays with the U.S. Postal Service, but there has been no indication so far that it will work on broader relief issues. The Senate is on recess until after Labor Day.