WASHINGTON, DC — At more than $2 trillion, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) is the largest stimulus package voted on by Congress in the nation’s history.
Northern Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie-R, argued every member should be required to have their vote recorded for posterity.
“Mr. Speaker, I came here to make sure our republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber and I request a recorded vote,” he said on the House floor Friday.
Massie, who is serving his fourth term, signaled he would push for this vote earlier this week, angering members who would have rather remained in their districts than return to Washington, potentially further exposing themselves and others to COVID-19. In a tweet, President Trump suggested Massie be thrown out of the Republican party.
“They don’t want a recorded vote. They don’t want to be on record making the biggest mistake in history,” Massie told reporters outside of the Capitol following the bill’s passage.
“You are telling people to drive a truck. You are telling people to bag groceries, grow their food, by golly, they can be in there and they can vote,” he added.
Massie often raises concerns about astronomical federal spending and government overreach. Sometimes these are welcome debates but in this time of crisis, these libertarian arguments become politically difficult to make.
“In ordinary circumstances, we would want every member to be accountable through a roll call vote especially with a piece of legislation this significant but again this is an unprecedented and not a typical situation,” said Rep. Andy Barr, (R) of Lexington, Kentucky.
“I have another colleague of mine from Kentucky, Hal Rogers, who is an older gentleman and this pathogen is particularly virulent with older people as we know and so we have to also respect the health and safety of our colleagues,” he added.
“Thomas is a friend of mine. He’ll have to answer for why he chose to do it that way,” said Rep. Brett Guthrie, (R) of Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Barr and Guthrie refrained from criticizing Massie. Both supported the CARES Act.
“This is a very aggressive stimulus package that will deliver to Kentucky families and under the circumstances this is an investment to fight and defeat this virus and respond aggressively to this national public health emergency,” said Barr.
“The majority of this bill is allowing people to keep their paychecks, allowing people to keep their income either through unemployment or through their employer keeping them on the payroll,” said Guthrie.
Republican Congressman Hal Rogers and Democrat John Yarmuth were the only Kentucky House members who didn’t return to the Capitol for the vote.
A spokesperson for Yarmuth said he wanted to do his part to keep himself and others safe by remaining at home.
Tompkinsville Congressman James Comer-R, also voted in favor of the bill.
Massie was the only Kentucky House member who opposed the bill.