Representative to Try to Force Expanded Vote on Virus Relief Package

Representative to Try to Force Expanded Vote on Virus Relief Package
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol after he blocked a unanimous consent vote on a long-awaited hurricane disaster aid bill in the chamber on May 28, 2019. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)
Zachary Stieber
3/27/2020
Updated:
3/27/2020

A member of the House of Representatives confirmed on Friday morning that he would try to force an expanded vote on the CCP virus relief package passed by the Senate earlier this week.

“In a few moments I will request a vote on the CARES Act which means members of Congress will vote on it by pushing ‘yes’ or ’no‘ or ’present,'” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) wrote on Twitter.

Noting that some Americans in crucial industries such as grocery clerks, delivery drivers, and healthcare professionals are still going to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, Massie added: “Is it too much to ask that the House do its job, just like the Senate did?”

Massie’s move would force the House to wait until a quorum, or majority, of lawmakers are present. In the House currently, that’s 216 members.

A voice vote was planned, which would have allowed the House to pass the bill even without a majority of members being present. A similar situation unfolded in 1918 during the Spanish flu. A call for a quorum caused a delay but was eventually withdrawn.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) holds a press conference on March 26, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) holds a press conference on March 26, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

After Massie signaled late Thursday he planned to block the voice vote, some lawmakers began flying to Washington.

His move prompted widespread criticism, including from GOP President Donald Trump and some Republican lawmakers.

Trump called Massie a “third rate Grandstander” who “ just wants the publicity,” calling on Congress to quickly pass the package, which designates $2.2 trillion for most Americans, as well as some small businesses and corporations.

Some defended Massie, including Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas). He told Trump that Massie “is one of the most principled men in Congress” and said the lawmaker’s move amounted to “defending the Constitution today.”

Members were told in an updated schedule that debate on the package would start at 9 a.m. and there was a possibility a recorded vote was needed.

A physician is seen outside at Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City on March 26, 2020. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)
A physician is seen outside at Elmhurst Hospital Center in the Queens borough of New York City on March 26, 2020. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Recorded votes include how each lawmaker voted, while a voice vote does not.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the GOP whip, told Republicans that leaders want them to remain seated during Massie’s possible request for a recorded vote so that he doesn’t get enough support.

Massie faces a reelection race this year against lawyer Todd McMurtry, who represented Covington Catholic high school students after the widely reported incident involving them in Washington last January. Massie, 49, has been in office since 2012.

Two Democrats are also running for the seat in deep-red Kentucky.

Correction:
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the year of the Spanish flu when a similar call for a quorum caused a delay but was eventually withdrawn. This was during the Spanish flu in 1918. The Epoch Times regrets the error.
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news. Contact Zachary at [email protected]
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