Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is single-handedly holding up the coronavirus relief package in order to prevent it from being rushed into law before lawmakers have had a chance to read it.
H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act sailed through congress in the wee hours of Saturday morning with a vote of 363-40-1.
Democratic legislators voted in unison for the bill and 40 Republicans voted against what they consider to be a massive boondoggle. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) cast the abstaining vote.
The bill, which was rushed through congress without going through the necessary committees, includes provisions for two weeks of paid sick leave and up to 12 weeks of paid leave for workers affected by the virus. Companies with 500 or more employees are exempted from the bill’s paid emergency leave requirements. Small and mid-sized businesses will apparently be given a tax credit to pay for the benefits.
The bill also provides additional funding for state Medicaid programs, $1 billion in food aid, extended unemployment benefits, and free coronavirus testing for patients without insurance.
After blow-back from the small business community, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and White House point person, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, agreed to add a number of “technical changes” to the bill. Monday morning, the House planned to hold a unanimous consent vote, and the revised legislation was supposed to automatically move to the Senate as soon as Monday night.
Gohmert threw a monkey wrench in the plan.
“Once again, because the Saturday morning bill was rushed so hysterically to passage, it requires more pages of changes, supposedly about 46 pages of ‘technical corrections,’ some of which are truly substantive and not just ‘technical’ corrections to a bill that was 110 pages long,” the Texas Republican explained in a statement Monday.
The last draft of the ‘technical changes’ I saw was 87 pages long. The Democrats are writing the so-called ‘corrections’ as we speak. Having someone here in DC prepared to object forces the Democrat leadership to at least have the law changes drafted before they are approved by a Unanimous Consent vote. I cannot in good conscience give my consent to something that has not been finished or made available to Members of Congress before it is up for a vote.
This coronavirus is doing enough damage to people without Congress compounding the problem to rush through a bill and another corrected bill just to say we did something. We should be attempting to minimize the damage, not piling on. My constituents did not elect the California delegation to represent them, they elected me—and that’s what I am trying to do.
I will not give my consent without first reading these very serious changes that will hopefully minimize bankruptcies caused by the virus rather than causing more. The final draft has still not been finished. I have spoken with Kevin McCarthy and the President who both understand my concerns.
Gohmert insisted on reading aloud all 87 pages of changes knowing that if one member stands in opposition, the bill cannot move to the Senate with unanimous consent.
My constituents did not elect the California delegation to represent them, they elected me—and that’s what I am trying to do. I will not give my consent without first reading these very serious changes … https://t.co/phTTZlg6mN
— Louie Gohmert (@replouiegohmert) March 16, 2020
“I have spoken with Kevin McCarthy and the president who both understand my concerns,” Gohmert wrote in his statement. “Its easy to talk to the President when we completely share the same driving desire to make America even greater.”
Gohmert was on Fox Business with Lou Dobbs Monday night to talk about the issue, as well as the do-nothing FISA reform bill.