WASHINGTON - Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, is holding up the House-passed coronavirus relief bill and preventing it from being delivered to the Senate for a vote.
The House was expected to make technical corrections Monday to the bipartisan measure, which the House passed early Saturday, but Gohmert is insisting on reading them, a Democratic leadership aide confirmed Monday.
The technical corrections package has not yet been finalized, and the House wants to pass it by unanimous consent because it is on recess this week.
If one member stands in opposition, the House can't send the bill to the Senate without bringing the entire House back to Washington for a vote. The Senate is in session this week, but schedules have been fluid because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Gohmert was among 40 Republicans who voted against the bill, which overwhelmingly passed the House and was endorsed by President Donald Trump. In a statement explaining his vote, Gohmert praised how Trump had negotiated the package but said, "This crucial bill was not even given the normal amount of time to debate it on the House floor."
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Gohmert said that he had a number of questions he wanted answered before the vote but that there was no time. "We voted, and I truly had wanted to vote yes but could not for a bill that created so many concerns without time to examine whether some of our language did more harm than good."
"Unfortunately, now that it has passed the House, we will find out what this bill actually does," he said. "Hopefully, the Senate will take the time to clean up the damage our bill caused and not just rubber-stamp it, so I can vote for the bill that they send back to the House."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledged in a statement Sunday that the ball is in the House's court. He said that he commends the work Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did to strike the agreement and that senators from both parties are carefully reviewing the details and "are eager to act swiftly to help American workers, families and small businesses navigate this challenging time."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who negotiated the legislation with Mnuchin, said the legislation includes free coronavirus testing, even for the uninsured, two weeks of paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave. To help people who lose their jobs amid the outbreak, Pelosi said the bill would strengthen unemployment insurance and boost food security initiatives like food stamps.
It also would increase federal funds "for Medicaid to support our local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems, so that they have the resources necessary to combat this crisis," she said.