Gohmert, citing changes, won't block coronavirus bill

Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertTop conservatives pen letter to Trump with concerns on fourth coronavirus relief bill Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House The Hill's 12:30 Report: What we know about T stimulus deal MORE (R-Texas) says he will no longer try to block House passage of an emergency coronavirus package, setting the stage for the lower chamber to send the bill to the Senate later Monday night.

Gohmert, a conservative firebrand, had vowed earlier in the day to block the legislation single-handedly, citing what he considered its harmful effects on small businesses.

After speaking with Republican leaders, including a phone call with President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders says he wouldn't 'drop dead' if Trump decided on universal healthcare Overnight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Hillicon Valley: State officials push for more election funds | Coronavirus surveillance concerns ramp up pressure for privacy bill | Senators warned not to use Zoom | Agencies ask FCC to revoke China Telecom's license MORE, he said he still doesn't support the package on the whole but is satisfied enough with changes negotiated Monday between Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi calls for investigation into reports of mistreatment of pregnant women in DHS custody Wisconsin highlights why states need a bipartisan plan that doesn't include Democrats federalizing elections Pelosi defends push for mail-in voting: GOP 'afraid' to let people vote MORE (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Health Care: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | Democrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next relief deal | Fauci says death toll could be around 60,000 Trump downplays need for widespread testing before reopening economy On The Money: Trump officials lay groundwork for May reopening | More than 6M file for jobless benefits | Fed launches T in economic relief | Dems, Mnuchin in talks over next aid deal MORE that he'll allow the bill to pass by unanimous consent.

"There are some substantive changes that they're calling technical changes. Some of them I'd like to see go through. I think they'll be helpful keeping people in business," Gohmert told a pair of reporters in the Capitol late Monday evening.

Gohmert said he intended to go to the floor Monday night to voice his criticisms to the bill, but would ultimately withdraw his formal objection to allow the package to move to the Senate.

"Unless Mnuchin changes something else that I'm not expecting, I plan to reserve the right to object, and express my concerns, and then probably withdraw the objection," he said. "I've been here since 10 [a.m.], and there's been a lot of work done, by a lot of people to try to get this to a [better] place. But let's face it, like Obama said: 'elections have consequences.' They have the majority, so they can get more of what they want in this bill.

"So please understand, withdrawing my objection is not the same as saying I support the bill, because I still don't," he added. "It's just less bad."

Even as he spoke, Mnuchin was on the other side of the Capitol briefing Senate Republicans on the changes, in hopes of getting them on board.

Some Senate Republicans, bearing echoes of Gohmert, said they'll push for additional changes to the House bill to provide further protections for small businesses.

"I feel an urgency to get it done right," said Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunDemocrats, Trump set to battle over implementing T relief bill Senate GOP looking at ,200 in coronavirus cash payments GOP divided on next steps for massive stimulus package MORE (R-In.). "A few more days is not going to hurt to get out a better version."

Yet Senate GOP leaders, wary of a prolonged fight over the emergency relief bill amid a worsening coronavirus crisis, seemed ready to take up the amended House bill — as long as Mnuchin and Trump were on board. Additional changes, they said, can be made in the next round of emergency relief surrounding the fast-moving pandemic.  

"People need to know that there's going to be another opportunity to legislate after we take up the House bill," said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats ramp up talks with Mnuchin on next COVID-19 relief deal Senate blocks dueling coronavirus relief plans Lawmakers announce legislation to fund government purchases of oil MORE (R-Texas). "Maybe that will relieve some of the pressure and desire to amend that."

Cornyn's remarks came shortly after the Senate vote to approve a short-term extension of the government's most contentious surveillance powers, which had expired on Sunday. That bill heads next to the House, where it could meet a one-man road-block: Louis Gohmert, who left open the possibility that he would stage a protest similar to that surrounding the coronavirus bill, and prevent it from moving by unanimous consent.

"Depends on whether we're open to having some additional reforms in there," he said. "Cause I would rather not have one than to go forward with the lack of reforms that are currently missing."

Asked if he would be in the Capitol Tuesday, when the bill may reach the House floor, Gohmert was terse.

"Well, I may need to," he said.