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House sends coronavirus relief bill to Senate after delay by Rep. Gohmert

Gohmert, R-Texas, was able to hold it up because if one member stands in opposition, the House can't send the bill to the Senate without bringing the entire House back to Washington for a vote.
Image: Louie Gohmert
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, at President Donald Trump's impeachment trial in December 2019.Shawn Thew / Pool via AFP - Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — The House on Monday night passed a bill containing technical corrections to the coronavirus relief bill it passed over the weekend, sending it to the Senate to be considered for a vote at some point this week.

Around 8:10 p.m. ET, the House passed the corrections by unanimous consent during a pro forma session since the lower chamber is on recess this week.

Earlier in the day, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, held up the process because he insisted on reading them, a Democratic leadership aide confirmed Monday. He spoke on the floor Monday night and said that the technical corrections make the bill better and he withdrew his objection to pass the measure by unanimous consent.

Senate GOP leaders have not yet specified an exact day for voting on the bill, but a number of senators want to act on it as soon as possible and want to get started on a third relief package.

Gohmert was able to hold it up because if one member stands in opposition, the House can't send the bill to the Senate without bringing the entire House back to Washington for a vote. The Senate is in session this week, but schedules have been fluid because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Gohmert was among 40 Republicans who voted against the original bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House and was endorsed by President Donald Trump. In a statement explaining his vote, Gohmert praised how Trump had negotiated the package but said, "This crucial bill was not even given the normal amount of time to debate it on the House floor."

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Gohmert said that he had a number of questions he wanted answered before the vote but that there was no time. "We voted, and I truly had wanted to vote yes but could not for a bill that created so many concerns without time to examine whether some of our language did more harm than good."

"Unfortunately, now that it has passed the House, we will find out what this bill actually does," he said. "Hopefully, the Senate will take the time to clean up the damage our bill caused and not just rubber-stamp it, so I can vote for the bill that they send back to the House."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledged in a statement Sunday that the ball is in the House's court. He said that he commends the work Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did to strike the agreement and that senators from both parties are carefully reviewing the details and "are eager to act swiftly to help American workers, families and small businesses navigate this challenging time."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who negotiated the legislation with Mnuchin, said the legislation includes free coronavirus testing, even for the uninsured, two weeks of paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave. To help people who lose their jobs amid the outbreak, Pelosi said the bill would strengthen unemployment insurance and boost food security initiatives like food stamps.

It also would increase federal funds "for Medicaid to support our local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems, so that they have the resources necessary to combat this crisis," she said.