Coronavirus Florida: 'Stunt' forces Congress to vote on stimulus in person

2020-03-27 | The Palm Beach Post

March 27--Members of the U.S. House are returning Washington this morning after a procedural move forced them to vote in person on the $2.1 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill.

On Thursday, U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Sunrise, and Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, said on a conference call that they expected to cast their vote remotely in favor of the legislation that passed the U.S. Senate 96 to zero.

The only hiccup they said would be if a member objected, which would then require a vote in person. That objection materialized late Thursday when Kentucky Republican U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky voiced his reservations about a voice vote.

On Friday, members of the U.S, scrambled to get to Washington to cast their vote.

Wasserman Schultz ripped Massie, though not by name, in a statement early Friday. She said Massie's "stunt" put congressional representatives, their staffs and families at needless exposure and threatened to delay legislation millions of Americans are counting on.

Her statement said:

"Using a parliamentary threat to sabotage low-wage workers, hospitals and small businesses from swiftly receiving the financial relief they so desperately need, is more than just cynical grandstanding, it is dangerous. To pull this stunt amid a global pandemic will needlessly place hundreds of people – Members, staff, support workers and all their families – into a world of unwelcome anxiety and unwise public health interactions, regardless of the precautions. This may prove to be no more than a hubristic bluff by an attention-starved Member. But if not, I will do all I can today to help every American avoid an even harsher disruption than the one that is already being unleashed on all of us right now. Today's vote is a political game for no American -- but one."

It also cost Florida's delegation two votes. Republican Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami is quarantined after developing the disease. Deutch has self-quarantined as well, although he has shown no symptoms and said he expects to end the isolation this weekend.


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