Posted by 27 March 2020
The Senate passed the third coronavirus aid bill unanimously earlier this week. House leadership had hoped the bill could be passed by voice vote in that chamber, which would not necessitate members to return to the Capitol for a vote. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) stood in the way of that plan.
The $2 trillion aid bill has bipartisan support and will easily pass the House of Representatives. When every House member supports a bill, it can be passed without a roll call vote. Instead, the House can reconvene with minimal membership and legislation can pass by a voice vote. This only works so long as no one objects that there is not a quorum of House members to do business.
Rep. Massie suggested that he would object to a voice vote. He noted that the rules require that a quorum be present to vote on legislation, and a bill of this importance should not be considered by the House under a suspension of the rules. To forestall his objection, House leadership has arranged that enough House members would return to Washington, D.C., to have a quorum.
This move has not endeared Rep. Massie to House leadership. They say that it is dangerous to require House members to travel and gather together in a time when health officials say people should be social distancing. They also note that there is no chance this bill will fail in the House, so Rep. Massie is accomplishing nothing by his stand. President Trump has also weighed in, calling Rep. Massie a “grandstander” and asking that the Republican Party expel him.
Do you think House members should have been forced to return to Washington, D.C., to vote on the coronavirus aid bill?