President Donald Trump on Friday lashed out at Rep. Thomas Massie, calling him a “third rate Grandstander” after the Kentucky Republican signaled he would oppose a $2 trillion relief bill intended to soften the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“He just wants the publicity. He can’t stop it, only delay, which is both dangerous & costly,” Trump said of Massie in a series of furious tweets.
Trump said that while Republicans had to “give up some stupid things” through negotiations with Democrats “in order to get the ‘big picture’ done,” the bill was “90% GREAT!”
“WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!” Trump added.
Massie said in a lengthy Twitter thread later Friday morning that he will “request a vote” on the stimulus bill, essentially delaying its passage by potentially forcing a recorded vote.
“Right now, millions of essential, working-class Americans are still required to go to work during this pandemic,” Massie wrote. “Is it too much to ask that the House do its job, just like the Senate did?”
Once Massie requests the roll-call vote on the chamber floor, he needs at least one-fifth of the members who are present there to stand up in support.
The Democrat-led House hoped to pass the massive stimulus package — which sailed through the Senate unanimously Wednesday night — more quickly with a voice vote instead of a recorded vote. Major bills typically require a recorded vote, a lengthier process than a voice vote, in which members yell ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ and the presiding member decides which side is louder.
Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office said Friday morning that “we are hopeful the bill will pass by voice vote.”
But a single member of the 435-person House could object to a voice vote, possibly leading to a roll-call vote — and requiring many members who have left Washington, D.C., amid the coronavirus outbreak to rush back to Capitol Hill.
Massie had hinted Thursday that he wants a quorum, which would force at least half of those House members to come back.
In an interview with a Kentucky radio station that day, Massie suggested he would oppose the bill because of its effect on U.S. national debt, according to the Louisville-based Courier-Journal.
“Not a good deal,” Massie tweeted later Thursday morning.
Massie drew outrage from some other House members for making them come back to Washington, especially since at least two House members have tested positive for COVID-19 and others have voluntary quarantined themselves.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said in a tweet Friday morning: “Because of one Member of Congress refusing to allow emergency action entire Congress must be called back to vote in House. Risk of infection and risk of legislation being delayed. Disgraceful. Irresponsible.”
But some House Republicans leapt to defend Massie against Trump’s attacks.
Freedom Caucus member Chip Roy, R-Texas, told Trump to “back off” of Massie, saying on Twitter that the Kentucky representative “is one of the most principled men in Congress & loves his country.”
“There’s nothing 3rd rate about that, @realDonaldTrump,” Roy tweeted.
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., tweeted that Massie “doesn’t warrant this dressing down” from the president. “Thomas—Hang tough brother.”
Democrats also tore into Massie.
“Honestly, I don’t want to make an insignificant person more significant than they are,” Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said when asked about him Friday.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who served under President Barack Obama, said in a profanity-laced tweet that Massie “must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity.”
Trump responded approvingly: “Never knew John Kerry had such a good sense of humor! Very impressed!”