Rep. Jared Golden thinks the U.S. Navy has been overlooking certain realities the coronavirus outbreak represents to sailors and civilian shipbuilders in Maine.
There have been two positive cases at Bath Iron Works and one coronavirus-related death at the military-run Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
“Right now, I think the Navy needs to recognize that the top mission is protecting the force,” said Golden, a Marine veteran and House Armed Services Committee member. “They seem to have this push ahead attitude, which isn’t necessary in this moment.”
Golden and the rest of Maine’s congressional delegation, and Governor Janet Mills, have called on the Navy to give BIW a break on its contract deadlines to deliver destroyers.
“Yes, the Navy is the client, and we are in the business of building ships, but the pace of that needs to slow at a time when the Nation is grappling with this pandemic,” Golden said. “The Navy is going to have to adjust.”
In Washington last month, Golden voted for the $2 trillion coronavirus emergency aid package passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, but Golden is now proposing appropriating $350 billion more in small business aid, which would amount to $700 billion for the program.
“I think Congress should set aside some of the money — dedicated for rural communities — so we make sure the money is not just flowing to population centers,” Golden said.
Golden would also like to see those forthcoming direct cash payments to Americans to be expanded.
He said, “$1,200, you know, probably enough to help someone in the month of April. What about May?”