Trump, Lawmakers Blame GOP Peer for Forcing Travel on Virus Vote

President Donald Trump and several House members blamed a Kentucky Republican for forcing hundreds of lawmakers to travel to Washington to vote on the $2 trillion rescue plan as most of the country stays home to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

“Heading to Washington to vote on pandemic legislation,” New York Republican Peter King wrote on Twitter. “Because of one member of Congress refusing to allow emergency action entire Congress must be called back to vote in House. Risk of infection and risk of legislation being delayed. Disgraceful. Irresponsible.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier said she intended to pass the measure by voice vote, allowing almost all members to avoid travel that can increase the risk of being exposed to the virus. But Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, suggested in a radio interview Thursday that he may push for a roll-call vote.

Trump criticized Massie on Twitter Friday, calling him a “third rate Grandstander” and saying he should be thrown out of the Republican party.

On Thursday evening, Minnesota Democrat Dean Phillips urged Massie on Twitter to spell out what he planned to do.

“Dear@RepThomasMassie: 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.

As lawmakers began up to three hours of debate Friday, it still wasn’t clear whether a recorded vote will be needed. If members do have to cast individual votes, emergency rules announced Thursday will allow only 30 members at a time to go to the House floor, so they can avoid crowding.

“People who can see the chamber now will see that we are keeping a distance from one another,” said second-ranking House Democrat Steny Hoyer of Maryland. “Not out of hostility, but out of love for one another that we may keep one another healthy and safe.”

Two House members have tested positive for covid-19 and others are in self-quarantine after possible exposure. There would need to be at least 218 members in the chamber to have a quorum for a roll call vote.

Separately, Arizona Democrat Ruben Gallego reported on some heroics by Arizona Republican Paul Gosar on their flight to Washington.

Gallego wrote on Twitter: “I am now an fully awake on my red eye to DC! But thank you to @repgosar answering the call when the flight attendants asked for anyone with medical background! He answered when a young man passed out suddenly on this flight!” Gosar is a dentist.

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