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Trump calls Rep. Thomas Massie 'third-rate grandstander' over threat to delay COVID-19 relief vote

GOP's Massie re-elected in Kentucky 4th District
Posted at 11:29 AM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 12:30:02-04

Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie ought to be thrown out of his party for threatening to delay the passage of a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, President Donald Trump tweeted Friday morning.

Much of Congress was away from Washington by Friday morning, either quarantined or social distancing at home to prevent transmission of the virus. The Senate had passed the $2 trillion bill unanimously late Wednesday night, and House leaders indicated they hoped to pass it themselves through a voice vote — a process in which not every representative is required to be present, but those who wish to debate can come to the chamber and articulate their positions.

A single representative’s objection, however, could force at least a quorum of 216 lawmakers to physically return to the chamber for the vote.

Massie had intimated on Twitter and in radio appearances that he was prepared to be that representative. A vote without a quorum would be unconstitutional, he wrote, and the bill itself — one that would send $1,200 checks to most adults and free up large loans for businesses affected by the pandemic — would add too much to the national debt.

"It's the biggest bailout package in the history of the world," Massie told WCPO on Wednesday, shortly after the Senate passed the bill. "I'm concerned. Just plugging money into the economy is not going to fix what's broken right now."

The president responded in characteristically abrasive fashion Friday morning, writing on his own Twitter that Massie was a “third rate Grandstander” and “a disaster for America.”

Massie is frequently among a small handful of no votes opposing otherwise popular legislation in the House. In February, he was among four House members who voted against making lynching a federal hate crime. In 2019, he was one of seven who voted against guaranteeing back pay for government workers affected by federal shutdowns.

He has also professed a belief in a “deep state” movement of hidden operatives within the United States government attempting to push Trump into conflict with other countries.