Jared Golden mum about Republican failure to pick a House speaker

Jan. 6—As the House of Representatives engaged in a vote-a-thon this week in a failed effort to elect a new speaker, Maine's 2nd District congressman has remained nearly silent.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Lewiston, has said nothing to constituents or reporters about the ongoing congressional paralysis, aside from telling the House clerk in one roll call after another that he supported "Jeffries" — U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat.

Golden has voted every round for Jeffries along with every other Democrat, marking the first time he's gone along with his party's choice for speaker. In 2019 and 2021, Golden opposed the reelection of Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California, who stepped down last month.

In contrast to Golden's silence, Maine's other member of the House, Democrat Chellie Pingree in the 1st District has repeatedly denounced the Republican majority's failure to pick a speaker.

"We do not have a functioning House of Representatives," Pingree said Friday in a video released by her office.

"This is another day of not having a speaker, of basically having a government shutdown. And while there's all kinds of politics going on and people are making jokes," she said, "this is a very serious moment for our country, just like two years ago on Jan. 6."

"If the country was to go to war, we can't meet on the floor and debate. We don't have security clearances. Essential things that are critical to operating government are not happening right now," Pingree said.

"We are finishing the first week of this Congress with no government," she said.

Like everyone elected to the House in November, neither Golden nor Pingree has taken the oath of office for the new congressional term. The House cannot take any action other than adjournment until it elects a speaker.

Nearly all of the House Republicans, who have a majority, have been casting their votes every time for U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. But 21 lawmakers repeatedly refused to go along until the 12th round of votes Friday, when 14 of them switched to McCarthy. One more switched in the 13th round.

It remained unclear Friday whether he can muster a majority given the depth of opposition from a few hard-liners within the Republican caucus. Six of them held out against McCarthy in the first and second tallies during Friday's vote-a-thon.

McCarthy had 214 votes in the 13th round, his best showing of the week. Jeffries had 212.

On Friday, three House members did not cast votes. If they continue to be absent, McCarthy needs to flip two more of the holdouts to secure a victory.

It isn't clear what could sway those few Republicans who are still opposed to McCarthy — U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs and Eli Crane of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia and Matt Rosendale of Montana. Crane and Rosendale are widely considered the most likely to abandon their opposition to McCarthy.

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque, a Republican, said Friday that people need to realize "the process is important, and has been critical to a healthy republic since the beginning. Just like in elections for speaker on the past, a solution will emerge from the majority."

This is the first time in a century that a speakership vote wasn't resolved in the first round. In 1923, the last time Republicans split, a group of progressive GOP lawmakers held out through repeated votes over many days before a compromise winner emerged.

Pingree called on the GOP to resolve its divisions quickly.

"It's important that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle pull all this together and allow our government to function," said Pingree, who has served since 2009.

As it is, she said in a written statement, "This is a historic embarrassment for Republicans, but it's also a very dangerous moment for our country."

She added that Republicans could resolve the dispute by joining Democrats in voting for "the best person for the job"— Jeffries.