A second conservative Republican on Tuesday blocked another attempt to pass a long-overdue $19 billion disaster aid bill.
Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said that if Democratic leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi thought the measure was so important, they should have kept the House in session in Washington late last week to slate an up-or-down roll call vote.
“If the speaker of this House thought that this was must-pass legislation, the speaker … should have called a vote on this bill before sending every member of Congress on recess for 10 days,” Massie said as he blocked the measure.
“You can’t have bills passed in Congress with nobody voting on them,” Massie said. “That is the definition of the swamp, and that’s what people resent about this place.”
Massie’s move earned swift rebukes from top Democrats. Sanford Bishop of Georgia said that his agricultural district was but one part of the country suffering from hurricane damage and that aid won’t arrive until well after the start of planting season. “Many will not be able to plant this year,” Bishop said. Hurricane Michael struck Georgia in the middle of last fall’s harvest season.
Another conservative, Texas freshman GOP Rep. Chip Roy, had blocked an earlier attempt Friday to pass the measure under fast-track rules, but Democrats tried again Tuesday. Bishop flew to Washington from Georgia to request the House pass the popular measure under fast-track procedures that permitted any individual lawmakers to block the bill.
Rep. Austin Scott, a Republican from Georgia, criticized his GOP colleagues for holding up the disaster bill, calling them “clowns” in a tweet.
“I cannot understand why any member would object to giving relief to so many millions of our citizens who have been badly damaged by natural disasters,” said No. 2 House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Hoyer said the bill “will be passed overwhelmingly” when the House returns.
One concern of many House Republicans was a move by House Democrats last week to dump overboard Trump’s request for $4.5 billion to address the crisis of Central American refugees at the southern border.
“I just think a unanimous consent, voice vote, on the way out the door — there’s always, out of 535 (members of Congress), there’s always a few who think maybe that’s not appropriate,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., a conservative who presided over a momentslong pro forma session of the Senate on Tuesday.