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Furious lawmakers voiced serious concerns at Capitol Hill Thursday night that a Member of the Republican House could “become a thug” and possibly scuttle a vote on the $ 2 trillion stimulus package against coronaviruses, and potentially endanger other members of the House in the process, Fox News learned.
Fox News learns that there is deep concern on both sides of the aisle that Representative Thomas Massie, R-Ky., Could try to circumvent House’s plans to quickly approve the coronavirus bill via an ” voice vote ”- a verbal exercise in which those in favor shout yes, and those who oppose shout no. The stronger side would prevail.
“This is the Thomas Massie show,” said a senior Republican source who asked not to be identified.
“He’s going to do it,” a senior Republican leadership source told Fox News, explaining that the leadership had tried all types of arm twists – and that it didn’t work. The source said he actively called the members and told them to board the planes in the morning to return to Washington, so that a quorum of 216 members could be established if Massie or another member asked for one.
The source said that Massie received a very energetic call from a close confidant and member of the House Freedom Caucus urging him to allow the voice vote, but Massie will not budge. “We drove [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi for blocking things, and now that, “said the source.
When asked if House management was concerned about people other than Massie, another source replied, “There are others who are pushing him.
“It would be better not to do that!” cried a livid senior Democratic assistant on the phone when asked about such a script and Massie. “He’s going to make sure that everyone in the building [coronavirus]. “
An administration source declined to comment to Fox News when asked if the Trump administration has made efforts to limit any potential parliamentary mischief of Massie.
“Many members are trapped,” said a source. “If we don’t have a quorum tomorrow, we will certainly have one by Saturday.”
the 880 pages Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Would Be the Largest Economic Relief Bill in US History for Individuals, Big Businesses and Small Businesses – and Passed Unanimously in the Senate Despite Serious concerns on both sides as to whether it involved too much, or not enough.
Massie did not respond to several requests for comment from Fox News on Thursday evening. It is unclear why he may want to delay the bill, which some legislators say contains too much unnecessary spending – including $ 25 million for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Amidst the confusion, House majority leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Distributed a meeting schedule Thursday indicating that the House will meet at 9:00 am ET on Friday, and that there will be two hours of debate. “Members are informed that this measure may not be voted on,” said the calendar.
“Members are encouraged to follow the advice of their local and national health authorities, but if they are able and willing to be in Washington DC by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, members are encouraged to do so with caution,” continues the calendar. Hoyer.
“You could have a forum,” warned President Trump at a coronavirus press conference earlier today. “It will pass. It will just take a little longer.”
Also on Thursday evening, Fox News spoke to a Republican member who was returning to Washington due to Massie’s potential situation. The member said he was shocked that there could be delays since the Senate passed the stimulus bill by unanimous vote 96-0.
“I’m coming to D.C. to make sure the bill is passed,” the GOP member told Fox News. “It is frustrating to have to prepare for this scenario. … I really want the members to put people first and accomplish this. Heck, if 100% of the senators agree, it is pretty clear that it will “The only thing an MP would do would be to put the American people at great risk. It is very embarrassing for a member of Congress to do this.”
The best Democrats and Republicans have said they would prefer to vote by voice, as this would not require as many members to return to the Capitol and would speed up the vote.
However, after the voice vote, any member can simply request “a recorded vote”. This would automatically trigger the roll call.
This is where members of the House insert cards into electronic voting machines and vote yes, no or present. The Chamber then documents and records each member’s ballot.
“Many members are trapped.”
In the event that a roll call vote is required because of Massie’s request, management could push to delay the vote until Saturday to give members time to return to D.C., the two Congressional sources said.
The plan for a roll-call vote is to divide members into 16 groups of 30 members each to testify in the room “to minimize the risk of placing too many people in one place,” according to one internal source. security note obtained by Fox News.
State of the Union style extreme posture will be in effect on Capitol Hill on Friday, according to the memo sent by Capitol attending physician Brian Monahan and Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving to all members of the House before Friday vote of the coronavirus.
“A recorded vote could take five or six hours,” even after all the necessary members have returned to Washington, complained a House aide. This is because the House would stretch the vote, according to the memo, by having only members enter the room to vote in small groups to contain the risk of coronavirus.
Most of the votes in the House took about 20 minutes or so. Votes are sometimes reduced to five or even two minutes if everyone is in the room. (The longest vote in the history of the House took place on November 23, 2003 and lasted 2 hours and 55 minutes. It started at 3:00 am ET and ended just before 6:00 am ET on a measure to extend health insurance.)
However, there could be a deeper problem than the logistics of a recorded vote. Article I, section 5 of the Constitution notes that the House and the Senate need “a majority of each constitutes a quorum to do business”.
Massie or any other member could raise a point of order – in which a member states that the House or the Senate does not function properly according to his own rules – that the House has no problem. Therefore, the House cannot vote if it does not have a quorum. With 430 members, 216 constitutes a quorum.
House Rule XX dictates the parameters for establishing quorums in the House of Representatives. Article XX, paragraph 5 (c) (1), provides that the Chamber reduces the number required for a quorum “due to catastrophic circumstances”. But, this rule would eventually trigger the House declaring a certain number of vacancies over a period of days, and is therefore not an option.
In short, the House can have simple majority votes to pass the Coronavirus Bill. But if someone has a point of order regarding the lack of a quorum in the House, the leaders will likely have to thrill 216 members – be it Friday, weekend, or next week – before the House can vote on the Coronavirus Bill.
In a conference call with the Democrats today, Pelosi, D-Calif., Told members that the House would vote on Friday “if there is a quorum tomorrow”.
In addition, the security note also indicated that limited personnel without additional assistance would be allowed at the Capitol. According to the memo, only one or two people will be allowed to climb in the elevators at a time, and most will be encouraged to use the stairs.
“Access will be strictly limited to members of Congress, Congress staff who have an office located inside the Capitol, and staff who have access to the designated floor. If a staff member has no office at the Capitol – even if accompanied by a member – they will not be allowed inside the Capitol, “said the memo. “The accredited press will be allowed, as will official business visitors to the House Wing.”
The document asked members to stay in their offices until the time of voting. Officials discourage those “who have respiratory symptoms or fever” from coming.
Public servants are also expected to eliminate two of the six desks in the House from which Members can speak. The officials ask members to move away from each other inside the chamber and to clean the lectern themselves after speaking.
In a GOP call Thursday afternoon, minority parliamentary leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Informed Republicans that a GOP member was threatening to request a recorded vote, according to a Republican on the call . The member has not been identified.
Democrats stand united in voice vote on legislation Friday and there was no discussion during a caucus call Thursday afternoon that Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., or any another Democrat would try to erase the process and force a recorded vote, according to a source close to the call.
Behind the scenes, Capitol doctors, as well as party leaders in the House, worked to discourage members from returning to Washington to vote on the package, Fox News learned.
The not-so-subtle message, intended to prevent the unnecessary spread of contagion, came when the House closed the gymnasium normally accessible to members.
“This is to make them as uncomfortable as possible,” said a source who asked not to be identified to Fox News. “Some of these members live practically outside the gym.”
“Having all these guys on planes, flying and going backwards is a problem,” said another senior source.
Fox News is informed that the two sides have been trying to get a count of the number of members likely to show up. A source speculated that it could range from “70 to 150”.
Leland Vittert of Fox News contributed to this report.