Democratic leaders say $2 trillion stimulus will pass House on Friday
House Democratic leaders vowed Friday morning that the lower chamber will pass a massive $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill later in the day, despite last-minute hurdles erected by a conservative member that have sent lawmakers scrambling to return to Washington.
“We’re going to pass it today,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said as she entered the Capitol shortly before 9 a.m.
House leaders had sought to pass the enormous stimulus package, approved by the Senate Wednesday night, without having to call the full chamber back to Washington amid fears of travel and crowding. They intended to do so by using a voice vote, a procedure that would allow some members to debate the legislation — and lodge their concerns — without the full House reconvening.
But a conservative lawmaker, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), has threatened to force a roll-call vote Friday morning, compelling leaders in both parties to weigh a contingency plan for moving the package to President Trump’s desk.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has been talking to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in search of a quick path forward.
“I’ve talked to McCarthy last night and we’re working together to get this done,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer said that if Massie were to force a roll-call vote, party leaders expect to have enough lawmakers on the floor Friday to form a quorum — the minimum number of members required to stage a recorded vote. If that’s the case, the House can approve the measure on Friday, despite Massie’s gambit.
The House opened the floor at 9 a.m. to begin that debate, which was initially expected to run for two hours. But Pelosi said it’s now been extended to three.
“We will respect the congressional traditions and we will have a little longer debate than we had anticipated, and that’s a good thing. … My understanding is it will be extended to three hours, and then we’ll have the votes,” she said.
Asked if it will move by voice vote or recorded vote, Pelosi left it up in the air.
“We’ll see,” she said.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), speaking earlier on CNBC, remained slightly uncertain on the Friday vote, underscoring how leaders were still scrambling on Friday morning.
“So we get this done one way or the other today or tomorrow,” said Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.
“I think there’s a better than even chance we get this done today. We do have some names mentioned of people who might call for a roll-call vote. I hope that doesn’t happen. But in case it does, members are coming back for this vote,” he said.