Before requesting a COVID-19 vote from each member, Tom Massie skipped a COVID-19 vote for a fundraiser

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T.J. Kirkpatrick / Getty

As MEP Thomas Massie (R-KY) explained, his decision to push every last member of the House of Representatives back into Washington DC in the middle of a pandemic to get their votes for a massive Corona Virus Relief Law was a matter of pure principle , the kind of action that those who are genuinely connected to the ideals of a constitutional republic would like to perform.

“I thought I could sign my political death sentence,” the Kentucky Republican said later, reflecting on the maneuver he was carrying out, which upset almost all of his colleagues and also criticized President Donald Trump. “But I did it for basic reasons.”

But two weeks earlier, when Congress voted on a $ 850 billion coronavirus response bill, Massie didn’t bother to go to Washington, DC. In fact, he scoffed at the idea that he would even show up to put himself on the record. While his colleagues filed in the House of Representatives chamber around midnight to vote on this legislation – known as Phase 2 of the Coronavirus Response – Massie was back home in Kentucky after he just announced a fundraiser for his reelection campaign and had prepared for it reorganize his pantry.

“I’d be a no on that bill anyway,” he said to a local talk radio show, “and I’m not going to sit up there in DC waiting for four people to cook something in a back room that I know I do am. ” I will not vote for it. “

Massie’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on why he missed the March 14 vote. A spokesman for his congress office found that the vote was announced 15 minutes before it was held. However, lawmakers had been instructed all week to stay in DC for an expected vote on the $ 850 billion bailout package, which focused on U.S. public health support and widening sick leave. The fact that Massie skipped the city anyway suggests that the principled approach he would take from his colleagues a week later was inherently as political as his critics claimed.

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Massie was not the only legislature to miss the March 14 vote. Some of his colleagues were also absent because they quarantined themselves so as not to spread the virus. Detainees included participants in the Conservative Political Action Conference, where many Republican figures were exposed to the virus.

Massie himself went to the CPAC. But he had refused to quarantine himself. Instead, he returned to Kentucky and raised a fundraiser. He never returned to Washington to vote. According to Northern Kentucky Tea Party’s Facebook photos, the congressman was on a fundraiser to support his re-election on March 12. He spoke to supporters and talked to them over a beer in a ballroom at the Holiday Inn outside of Cincinnati.

The next day, Massie appeared on the Tom Red Morning Show, dismissed COVID-19 as “kung flu,” and joked that those who became ill with CPAC might have something different. “Half of my colleagues,” said Massie, “who knows what their lifestyle means.”

In addition to downplaying the need to be in Washington to vote on legislation, the Congressman has also criticized the Phase 2 bill itself. “What will happen is that the Democrats and Republicans will unfortunately try to outdo each other and spend more money than the other on each of their projects,” he predicted.

Two weeks later, when Congress leaders signed a $ 2 trillion COVID-19 Phase 3 response package with the White House, the situation had gotten much worse. Some members of Congress were still in quarantine, but public health experts also warned the public against traveling and gathering in places where they would be on top of one another – such as in the convention halls.

Given these challenges, the House leadership in both parties pushed for the Chamber to approve it with “unanimous approval” – a parliamentary maneuver that allows a very small group of legislators to pass a law while no member is physically present to register their appeal.

At that point, Massie decided not only to show up and vote against the measure, but to request that each member be included in the file with his or her vote. He shot back to Washington and told reporters that he was ready to unanimously stop the bill from being passed. The staunch financial conservative, who basically disagrees with all the bills, described this as a matter of existential importance for the republic so that the legislature’s positions on a historically massive bill can be documented.

The threat prompted spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and GOP leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to make efforts to ensure that there are enough legislators in the chamber to hold a so-called vote for the more legislators than only Massie would be required to object to a roll call vote.

On March 26th and 27th, tired Congressmen boarded empty planes to DC and drove to Wisconsin to vote. Massie later told Politico that he had been offered offers to make him give up his stunt and that he was being threatened. When nothing could stop Massie, Trump corrected this threat himself on the morning of the vote with a tweet and called him a “third-rate” grandstander.

When the time came to vote, Massie registered his rejection of the unanimous request for approval – “I came here to ensure that our republic would not die by unanimous approval and an empty chamber,” he said – but was quickly put down. No roll call vote was enforced and his step was small, except that a number of lawmakers were forced to travel to DC amid a pandemic. Democratic and Republican lawmakers openly complained about the inconvenience. In a conversation with Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) overheard by reporters, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) Called Massie a “fool”.

Massie is currently facing a major challenge from Todd McMurtry, a lawyer who represented students at Kentucky Catholic Covington High School in defamation cases resulting from a confrontation with indigenous activists in Washington in 2018. McMurtry’s campaign told The Wall Street Journal Since Massie’s big stunt, he’s raised $ 300,000. Massie meanwhile said he broke donation records and grossed at least $ 214,000 last week.

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