Lawmaker who forced colleagues to return to DC for coronavirus vote skipped earlier one

"I would be a 'no' on that bill anyway," Rep. Thomas Massie told a Kentucky radio show of his decision not to return to Washington to vote on the previous aid bill.
Image: Thomas Massie
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., talks to reporters before leaving Capitol Hill on March 27, 2020.Susan Walsh / AP

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By Dareh Gregorian

The Kentucky congressman who forced lawmakers around the country to return to Washington, D.C., for a vote on the coronavirus stimulus legislation last week skipped out on a vote on the previous aid bill to attend a fundraiser in his home state.

"I would be a 'no' on that bill anyway. I'm not going to sit up there in D.C. and wait for four people in a back room to cook something up that I know I'm not going to vote for," Rep. Thomas Massie told a local radio show of his decision to not show up for the vote on the earlier, $850 billion coronavirus package.

"My colleagues are fuming mad because they're almost sequestered or quarantined up there with the rest of the Congress folks waiting around," the Republican congressman said in the remarks, which were first reported by The Daily Beast.

In the same radio interview, Massie also referred to the coronavirus as "the kung flu."

On the day of the March 14 vote Massie tweeted that he and his wife were organizing their pantry.

Massie's office noted he later complained that House members were given just a 15-minute heads-up on the timing of the vote shortly after midnight on March 14. Lawmakers had been asked to stay in Washington for the vote.

Massie's comments on the phase II vote are a stark contrast to his stance on voting for the $2 trillion "phase III" package.

Lawmakers had hoped to pass the bill by unanimous consent or voice vote, but Massie said he would object and demanded a recorded vote. That forced dozens of lawmakers — many of whom are elderly and at risk of greater coronavirus symptoms — to rush back to Washington for last Friday's vote, because Massie's maneuver to get a recorded vote would require a quorum of at least 216 members to be present.

“I came here to make sure our republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent,” he declared on the House floor ahead of the vote. His effort for a recorded vote was unsuccessful and the bill passed with a voice vote.

On Monday, one of the lawmakers who'd returned to Washington for the vote, Rep. Nydia Velazquez, Democrat of New York, said she'd been diagnosed with presumed coronavirus.