House Starts Debate on Virus Bill as Trump Calls for Throwing Representative Out of GOP

The House of Representatives on Friday started debating the CCP virus relief package the Senate passed earlier in the week as President Donald Trump called for ejecting a GOP representative who is considering blocking a vote on the legislation.

Representatives entered the House chamber to begin up to three hours of debate on the Senate Amendment to H.R. 748. The bill outlines payments to people and businesses, billions for airlines, and a large small business support.

Members were told in an updated schedule that leaders were hopeful the bill will pass by voice vote but that they should travel to Washington if they’re “able and willing.” Some lawmakers boarded flights early Friday.

A voice vote can only happen if every member present in the U.S. Capitol doesn’t ask for a roll call, or recorded, vote. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told WKRC that he’s against a voice vote, signaling he might ask for a recorded vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) holds a press conference on March 26, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

Massie has remained elusive on whether he will block a voice vote but posted information about a U.S. Constitution clause that states a majority of the House “shall constitute a Quorum to do Business.”

If someone objects, the member chairing the House counts lawmakers present, and if they don’t constitute a quorum, or majority, then a vote is started and held open until there is a majority, or 216 members. Recorded votes include how each lawmaker voted, while a voice vote hides how each one voted.

Either way, Massie intends to vote against the package, citing concern about adding to the national debt with the $2 trillion package.

The Freedom Caucus, founded by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) also said that members don’t support the package, but didn’t say whether they’d vote against it.

A similar situation unfolded in 2018 during the Spanish flu. A call for a quorum caused a delay but was eventually withdrawn.

Some have targeted Massie by name, including Rep. Dean Phillips (R-Minn.).

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)

“If you intend to delay passage of the coronavirus relief bill tomorrow morning, please advise your 428 colleagues RIGHT NOW so we can book flights and expend ~$200,000 in taxpayer money to counter your principled but terribly misguided stunt,” Phillips wrote to Massie on Twitter.

Republican President Donald Trump took to Twitter early Friday to suggest Massie be thrown out of the Republican Party, calling the Congressman a “third rate Grandstander.”

“He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly,” Trump wrote.

“Workers & small businesses need money now in order to survive.”

Trump accused Massie of “empowering the Radical Left Democrats.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) pushed back on Trump’s allegations, telling the president that Massie “is one of the most principled men in Congress & loves his country.”

“He is defending the Constitution today by requiring a quorum. There’s nothing 3rd rate about that, @realDonaldTrump. I may miss vote if he forces roll call (flights) but it will pass. Back off,” Roy wrote.

Massie faces a reelection race this year against lawyer Todd McMurty, who represented Covington Catholic high school students after the situation involving them in Washington. Massie, 49, has been in office since 2012.

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

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Author: Zachary Stieber

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