Congress voted last week on a $2 trillion fiscal stimulus bill, which it claimed would help the country through the self-inflicted crisis resulting from the economic shutdown over the coronavirus. The bill is the largest single spending bill passed in history, and will add nearly 10% to a national debt that is already over $23 trillion. Yet only one man in Washington is standing up to that bill.
The Senate passed the massive spending bill 96-0. But the House of Representatives wanted to leave town without voting on it, hoping to pass the bill by voice vote. But Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) wasn’t about to let that happen. Voice votes are supposed to be for non-controversial bills, not mega $2 trillion spending bills full of special interest pork. Here’s Massie’s reasoning, from a Twitter thread on his feed:
I swore an oath to uphold the constitution, and I take that oath seriously. In a few moments I will request a vote on the CARES Act which means members of Congress will vote on it by pushing “yes” or “no” or “present.” The Constitution requires that a quorum of members be present to conduct business in the House. Right now, millions of essential, working-class Americans are still required to go to work during this pandemic such as manufacturing line workers, healthcare professionals, pilots, grocery clerks, cooks/chefs, delivery drivers, auto mechanics, and janitors (to name just a few). Is it too much to ask that the House do its job, just like the Senate did?
I am not delaying the bill like Nancy Pelosi did last week. The bill that was worked on in the Senate late last week was much better before Speaker Pelosi showed up to destroy it and add days and days to the process. This bill should have been voted on much sooner in both the Senate and House and it shouldn’t be stuffed full of Nancy Pelosi’s pork – including $25 million for the Kennedy Center, grants for the National Endowment for the Humanities and Arts, and millions more other measures that have no direct relation to the Coronavirus Pandemic. That $25 million, for example, should go directly to purchasing test kits. The number one priority of this bill should have been to expand testing availability and creation of tests so that every American, not just the wealthy and privileged, have access to testing. We have shut down the world’s economy without adequate data. Everyone, even those with no symptoms, needs immediate access to a test.
This bill creates even more secrecy around a Federal Reserve that still refuses to be audited. It allows the Federal Reserve to make decisions about who gets what, how much money we’ll print. With no transparency. If getting us into $6 trillion more debt doesn’t matter, then why are we not getting $350 trillion more in debt so that we can give a check of $1 million to every person in the country?This stimulus should go straight to the people rather than being funneled through banks and corporations like this bill is doing. 2 trillion divided by 150 million workers is about $13,333.00 per person. That’s much more than the $1,200 per person check authorized by this bill.
Nothing in that explanation is illogical or unreasonable. Yet Congress is determined not to do what’s right, but rather to “do something,” to make it look like it’s able to combat this virus, which ultimately is something it’s incapable of doing. Congress just thinks that throwing money at a problem will take care of it, yet all it will do is end up driving up the national debt, which taxpayers will have to pay for later through higher taxes.
Unfortunately, many so-called “conservative” Congressmen who like to talk a big game about the national debt were unwilling to take on the spending bill. And Massie’s move to call for a recorded vote, so that Congressmen would have to go on the record as to whether or not they supported this massive increase in the national debt, would have forced those other Congressmen to make a tough decision: vote for the bill, and have their constituents realize that their talk about balanced budgets was nothing more than talk; or vote against the bill and have themselves painted as cold, heartless people who didn’t care about coronavirus victims by the liberal media.
Unfortunately, enough Congressmen made it back to Washington so that a quorum was present, and Massie’s call for a recorded vote was defeated. House members got to duck a tough vote, something that could be held against them in the future. But Massie felt the ire of both sides of the aisle, with both Democrats and Republicans not happy at being forced to try to have their votes recorded. Even President Trump sided with the Swamp on this one, insulting Massie on his Twitter page.
Doing what’s right isn’t popular in Washington during normal times, and during times of crisis it’s even less popular. But once the coronavirus crisis passes, once people realize that it was just a case of the boy crying wolf, and once the negative effects of that $2 trillion stimulus bill are realized, maybe they’ll come to see that Massie was right all along.
Image: Gage Skidmore