Apparently, not even a global Coronavirus outbreak is enough to drive some Republicans to abandon their partisanship. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) is threatening to delay the approval of a Coronavirus relief funding package as of early Monday afternoon, insisting that so-called “technical corrections” that House leaders want to pass via unanimous consent should be read on the House floor. If unanimous consent fails — and it only takes one opposing member to sink it — the whole House would have to be brought back for a vote, but members are currently scattered across the country doing work in their districts.
NEW — LOUIE GOHMERT is insisting on reading the technical corrections to the House’s coronavirus bill.
As long as one person stands in opposition, the House cannot send the bill to the senate without bringing the chamber back for a vote.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) March 16, 2020
Gohmert voted against the bill when the House passed it the first time, although he was one of only a few dozen Republicans to do so — most fell in line following an endorsement from the president. After his initial no vote, Gohmert insisted that the bill and quick vote process “created so many concerns without time to examine whether some of our language did more harm than good.” The legislation includes a demand for paid sick leave for workers at many businesses around the country, and Gohmert’s idea seems to be that the companies deserve protecting on about the same level as the lives of its workers and patrons. Sick leave isn’t optional for public health — it keeps those who are ill from coming in and potentially spreading the Coronavirus.
On Monday afternoon, he tweeted:
‘We still do not have a final draft of the negotiated changes being called ’technical corrections’ and some of us believe that the newly worded laws should be finished before we pass them.’
We still do not have a final draft of the negotiated changes being called ’technical corrections’ and some of us believe that the newly worded laws should be finished before we pass them. #CoronaVirus
— Louie Gohmert (@replouiegohmert) March 16, 2020
A Democratic leadership aide confirmed to NBC that Gohmert was insisting upon reading the technical corrections. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin himself — a close Trump ally – has been negotiating with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to develop the legislation, and as mentioned, Trump himself endorsed it and said he would sign it, but that’s still not enough for Gohmert, apparently.
As is, besides the paid sick leave, the legislation also includes provisions like free Coronavirus testing, and the bill also “strengthens unemployment insurance and boosts food security initiatives like food stamps,” NBC notes. Originally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) derided the plan as an “ideological wish list,” and he’s backed that up via significant delays in even attempting to work on the House’s plan. After a long weekend break, the Senate will be reconvening this Monday evening to consider the situation, at which time they’ll first be handling a vote on security and surveillance legislation. Thanks to opposition over in the Senate chamber, the legislation has again been kicked down the road — POLITICO reports that it’s only set to be considered days down the road at present.
All of this is unfolding as Americans are continuing to suffer. The U.S. has reported almost 4,200 cases of the Coronavirus, and there have already been 73 deaths, and in order to help stem the spread, businesses are closing left and right. That leaves people struggling and covered by the provisions that Dems are trying to pass.