Kentucky Republican again threatens to halt quick passage of coronavirus aid package

Coronavirus
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol in 2019. House leaders' plan for swift action on a $2.2 trillion package to ease the coronavirus pandemic's devastating toll on the U.S. economy and health care system ran into complications Friday, as the maverick conservative threatened to delay passage until most lawmakers return to Washington for a vote. Party leaders had hoped to pass the measure by voice vote without lawmakers having to take the risk of traveling to Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol in 2019. House leaders’ plan for swift action on a $2.2 trillion package to ease the coronavirus pandemic’s devastating toll on the U.S. economy and health care system ran into complications Friday, as the maverick conservative threatened to delay passage until most lawmakers return to Washington for a vote. Party leaders had hoped to pass the measure by voice vote without lawmakers having to take the risk of traveling to Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Rep. Thomas Massie indicated Wednesday that he will oppose any attempt to pass new funding for small business loans through the House by unanimous consent or voice vote, a threat that follows his previous objection to quick passage of a $2 trillion Covid-19 stimulus deal.

The Kentucky Republican’s comments complicate the path forward for the next coronavirus aid package under consideration by Congress, which has already been bogged down by disagreements between top Democrats and Republicans.

The White House has requested an additional $251 billion for a small business loan program that was included in the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill last month, which would boost the program to a whopping $600 billion. Senate Republicans are pushing to quickly approve the funding, while Democrats are calling for more funding for state and local governments, hospitals, and food stamp programs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told members on a conference call Wednesday afternoon that congressional leaders were aiming to pass any deal struck with Republicans by unanimous consent or voice vote, two sources familiar with the call told CNN. Unanimous consent and voice votes are commonly used in the House for expedited passage of uncontroversial measures. Any one member can object to a unanimous consent or voice vote request.

“Once again they’re recommending that just let Nancy Pelosi pass it on her own, that we can all stay home,” Massie said of a potential measure to boost funding for the small business loan program during an interview on Fox Business Wednesday afternoon. “And I’m saying that’s not going to fly. It doesn’t fly with the Constitution, it doesn’t fly with accountability to the taxpayers.”

Massie previously attempted to force a full House vote on the $2.2 trillion CARES Act at the end of March, prompting hundreds of unhappy lawmakers to travel across the country on short notice to block his effort. He caught flack from both Democrats and Republicans for pushing for a full vote, even eliciting a derogatory tweet from President Donald Trump.

Massie argued the House should institute a remote voting system so members can avoid travel and vote on legislation.

“We need to change this so that people don’t have an excuse for not being accountable,” he said of remote voting.

Pelosi has repeatedly shot down the concept.

“Let’s not waste too much time on something that’s not going to happen,” she said of remote voting on a call with reporters at the end of March.

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