Former Secretary of State John Kerry and President Trump were among an unlikely coalition of politicians to flog Representative Thomas Massie on Twitter Friday as he called for a recorded vote on the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, forcing many members of the House to return to Washington, D.C.
The House was set to pass the legislation Friday by an overwhelming majority, and it sought to do so with a voice vote, which expedites the legislation. But under House rules, any member of the House can call for a recorded vote, requiring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to ensure that a quorum of 216 members are present. Massie did so formally Friday afternoon.
The move infuriated members of both parties, who said it would delay urgently needed legislation and force House members to unnecessarily travel back to Washington, D.C. to physically vote on a measure that was all but assured to pass.
In a tweet storm seeking to urge Massie to reconsider, Trump called him a “third-rate grandstander.” Trump was joined by Kerry, who used a colorful term for people from Massachusetts to describe Massie, who graduated from MIT and founded a Massachusetts start-up before returning to his native Kentucky. The tweets were an unlikely alignment for Trump and Kerry, who have not been shy about criticizing each other in the past.
Trump reposted Kerry’s tweet, saying he appreciated Kerry’s “sense of humor.”
The bipartisan rebuke did not sway Massie, who explained his reasoning for calling for a recorded vote in a series of tweets on Friday.
“The Constitution requires that a quorum of members be present to conduct business in the House. Right now, millions of essential, working-class Americans are still required to go to work during this pandemic such as manufacturing line workers, healthcare professionals, pilots, grocery clerks, cooks/chefs, delivery drivers, auto mechanics, and janitors (to name just a few)," Massie said in the tweets.
A request for comment from Massie’s office was not immediately returned. The Kentucky Republican opposes the measure and argues that all of the money in the massive bill should go directly to Americans rather than the large portion that goes to companies, local governments, and other organizations.
Despite Massie’s call for a recorded vote, the House had gathered enough members to D.C. to overrule him and pass the legislation Friday, even as many members, including two from Massachusetts, are self-quarantining after experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. Members were seen sitting several seats apart on the House floor in keeping with physical distancing recommendations.