House Passes Historic $2 Trillion Coronavirus Package Despite 11th Hour Drama

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The House of Representatives on Friday overwhelmingly approved the historic $2 trillion stimulus package aimed at jolting the economy from the detrimental impact amid the coronavirus pandemic, overcoming the 11th hour drama that ensued by using an unexpected procedural move to stop an objection of a GOP lawmaker demanding members to vote in person.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) angered lawmakers from both sides of the aisles, as well as President Trump after he threatened to delay the package to pass by unanimous consent. The House Freedom Caucus, objected to the bill in a tweet Thursday, calling it “not a good deal” due to the amount of money it would add to the national debt.

House leaders scheduled Thursday a voice vote to reduce the number of lawmakers who would be forced to return to Washington during the Coronavirus pandemic. Two House members have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than two dozen are self-quarantined. But most lawmakers across the nation including those from coronavirus-ravaged states from New York and California scrambled to return to Washington, D.C to form a quorum to prevent the Kentucky lawmaker’s from trying to hold up the relief passage. 

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During the House debate, Massie confirmed in a series of tweets that he will go ahead and demand a full roll-call recorded vote.

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“I swore an oath to uphold the constitution, and I take that oath seriously,” Massie tweeted just before noon ET. “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.'”

GOP leaders denied Massie from allowing to speak on the floor prior to the vote, prompting him to accuse his own party of being “afraid of the truth.”

“I’ve been told that they don’t even have 1 minute available for me to speak against this bill during the 4 hour debate,” Massie tweeted from the floor. “The fix is in. If this bill is so great for America, why not allow a vote on it? #SWAMP”

After the four-hour debate, the House called for a voice vote with a majority of those on the floor loudly shouted ‘ayes.’ The Kentucky lawmaker objected once presiding officer Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) declared “The ayes have it.”

“Mr. Speaker, I came here to make sure our republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber, and I request a recorded vote,” Massie said, asking for a count of lawmakers. “I object on the basis that a quorum is not present.”

One-fifth of all members present were needed to second Massie’s request for a recorded vote. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was the last member to speak before the vote and used her time at the podium to summon lawmakers scattered around the Capitol to come to the chamber. 

Many gathered in the chamber and viewing galleries above, being 6 feet apart from each other in an effort to block Massie from winning the required support of those present to back his call. 

His request was ultimately denied, allowing the voice vote from the House to be approved.

“A quorum is present and the motion is adopted,” Brown ruled, to applause.

The Senate unanimously passed in a 96-0 vote late Wednesday evening on a massive $2-trillion relief package aimed at jolting the economy from the detrimental impact amid the coronavirus outbreak crisis. After five days of intense negotiations between senators and the White House to help American workers and businesses impacted by the coronavirus, it produced the most expensive and far-reaching bipartisan measures in the history of Congress. 

The 880 page wide-reaching bill includes a $1,200 one-time check for individuals who make up to $75,000. That amount would scale down until it reached an annual income threshold of $99,000, where it would phase out altogether. It also includes $250 billion for direct payments to individuals and families, $387 billions in small business loans, $100 billion for hospitals, $200 billion for other “domestic priorities,” including child care and assistance for seniors, $250 billions in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies

The bill now goes to President Trump desk for his signature. Trump has signed two previous relief bills and voiced strong support for the “phase three” legislation to address the pandemic.