Rep. Thomas Massie accused of endangering fellow lawmakers
John Kerry, the former secretary of state and longtime Senate Democrat, quipped Friday that he “finally” agreed on something with President Donald Trump — that Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky was way out of line.
“Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an asshole,” tweeted Kerry, his party’s presidential nominee in 2004 and the owner of numerous Vietnam combat medals. “He’s given new meaning to the term #Masshole. (Finally, something the president and I can agree on!).”
Massie was drawing flak from across the political spectrum after indicating that he may call for a roll-call vote in the House for a $2 trillion stimulus package, in a development that could delay passage of the measure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been counting on a relatively quick voice vote on Thursday with “strong bipartisan” support.
Trump, for his part, tweeted Friday that the Kentuckian is “a third rate Grandstander” who can’t stop the package but only delay it. The president said that would be dangerous and costly, and he suggested Massie should be thrown out of the Republican Party.
Massie, a libertarian-leaning conservative who has been called “Mr. No,” has said he objects to the huge package because of how much it adds to the national debt, and he has said he could support it if the legislation were just about helping people get more unemployment benefits. He is known for moves such as providing the lone vote against a recent Hong Kong human-rights bill.
Other members of Congress were criticizing Massie for putting his fellow legislators at risk on Friday. Lawmakers had been forced to return to Washington, D.C., for the possible roll-call vote, as opposed to the unanimous consent that Pelosi initially aimed for. Many lawmakers are seniors, a group viewed as at higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the new coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19.
Republican Rep. Pete King of New York tweeted that there was “risk of infection and risk of legislation being delayed” because of “one Member of Congress refusing to allow emergency action.” King said it was “disgraceful” and “irresponsible.”
The House’s sergeant at arms warned lawmakers and their staffs in a letter Thursday to “maintain 6-foot social distance spacing as much as practicable” to fight the pandemic’s spread. “In the event of a recorded vote, Members will be notified. At such time, voting will be done alphabetically in groups of 30 Members over an extended period of time,” the letter said.
U.S. stocks DJIA, -3.010% SPX, -2.729% were down Friday and have been hammered this month by coronavirus-related worries, though Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday brought gains that analysts pinned on stimulus hopes. The Republican-led Senate unanimously passed the stimulus package late Wednesday, and Trump is expected to sign it into law quickly once the House acts.