Former Secretary of State John Kerry joined with President Donald Trump in slamming Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, for threatening to hold up passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. Kerry retweeted the president, called Rep. Massie an “a**hole,” and said the congressman should be “quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity.”
Here’s how we got here: The Senate approved the aid package on March 25 by a unanimous, 96-0 vote. It is the plan that would provide $1,200 to American adults earning up to $75,000, expands unemployment benefits, and suspends student loan payments. It also allows the Treasury Department to provide $500 billion in loans and investments to businesses.
The House had planned to approve the package by a “voice vote,” which does not require all of the lawmakers to be there to pass it. The goal was to get it to the president’s desk as quickly as possible for his signature, and to decrease the risk to lawmakers’ health.
Rep. Massie followed through on his plan to try to force a recorded vote. He did so moments after the House approved the bill by voice. Rep. Massie’s move could have delayed passage of the stimulus bill until Saturday because lawmakers who have left Capitol Hill would need to fly back in order to vote in-person.
But the bill is on its way to the president’s desk, anyway. Leaders from both parties “deflected” Rep. Massie’s efforts, the New York Times reported. CNN, citing Capitol Hill sources, reported there were “procedural steps to deny Massie’s request from requiring a recorded vote.” President Trump is expected to sign the bill quickly.
Here’s what you need to know.
President Trump Accused Thomas Massie of Seeking Publicity & John Kerry Added the Congressman Had ‘Tested Positive For Being an A**hole’
President Trump blasted Rep. Massie as a “grandstander” on Twitter and even said he should be booted from the Republican party. The president wrote, “Looks like a third rate Grandstander named @RepThomasMassie, a Congressman from, unfortunately, a truly GREAT State, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers Bill in Congress. He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly. Workers & small businesses need money now in order to survive. Virus wasn’t their fault. It is “HELL” dealing with the Dems, had to give up some stupid things in order to get the ‘big picture’ done. 90% GREAT! WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!”
John Kerry retweeted the president’s remarks and added his own comments: “Breaking news: Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an a**hole. He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity. He’s given new meaning to the term #Masshole. (Finally, something the president and I can agree on!)”
President Trump then retweeted Kerry and remarked, “Never knew John Kerry had such a good sense of humor! Very impressed!”
Rep. Massie Called For a Recorded Vote & Said He Was Fighting For Democratic Values
Rep. Massie has not yet responded directly to President Trump or to Kerry’s insults on his own Twitter page. But shortly after those sharp messages were posted, the congressman posted a lengthy thread explaining his positioning and confirming that he would follow through on his plan to call for a roll call vote.
The thread reads in part:
I swore an oath to uphold the constitution, and I take that oath seriously. 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.’
The Constitution requires that a quorum of members be present to conduct business in the House. Right now, millions of essential, working-class Americans are still required to go to work during this pandemic such as manufacturing line workers, healthcare professionals, pilots, grocery clerks, cooks/chefs, delivery drivers, auto mechanics, and janitors (to name just a few). Is it too much to ask that the House do its job, just like the Senate did?
I am not delaying the bill like Nancy Pelosi did last week. The bill that was worked on in the Senate late last week was much better before Speaker Pelosi showed up to destroy it and add days and days to the process. This bill should have been voted on much sooner in both the Senate and House and it shouldn’t be stuffed full of Nancy Pelosi’s pork- including $25 million for the Kennedy Center, grants for the National Endowment for the Humanities and Arts, and millions more other measures that have no direct relation to the Coronavirus Pandemic.
That $25 million, for example, should go directly to purchasing test kits. The number one priority of this bill should have been to expand testing availability and creation of tests so that every American, not just the wealthy and privileged, have access to testing. We have shut down the world’s economy without adequate data. Everyone, even those with no symptoms, needs immediate access to a test.
This bill creates even more secrecy around a Federal Reserve that still refuses to be audited. It allows the Federal Reserve to make decisions about who gets what, how much money we’ll print. With no transparency.”
In the days leading up to the vote on the coronavirus stimulus package, Rep. Massie had expressed concern that Americans could be giving up certain liberties and referred to the bill as a form of socialism. Politico reported Rep. Massie attempted to reach out to President Trump, but it was not clear whether they had spoken.
After calling for the recorded vote, Rep. Massie took the microphone to explain his decision. He said in part, “I came here to make sure our county doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber,” according to the Hill.
A Full Vote In the House Could Have Taken Several Hours Due to ‘Social Distancing’ Precautions In the Chamber
The House of Representatives made preparations in case a roll call vote would be needed. Health professionals have advised Americans to remain six feet away from each other in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Attending physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan and Sergeant at Arms Paul D. Irving also decided to limit the number of lawmakers who could be on the Floor of the House at any one time. Lawmakers can be present only of they are scheduled to speak. Everyone has also been required to use hand sanitizer before entering and leaving the chamber.
According to a security memo obtained by Fox News, House members would be allowed in to the chamber in groups of 30 “to minimize the risks posed by placing too many individuals in one location.” The groups, which were listed in alphabetical order, “would be notified of their time block to cast a vote.”
This process would take several hours. A House aide told Fox News a recorded vote could last as long as six hours. However, depending on how long it takes members of Congress to return to Washington, the vote could have been delayed even further. Based on House rules, there needs to be at least 216 House members present in order to begin casting votes. This is what is called a “quorum.”
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