President Donald Trump signed an unprecedented $2.2 trillion economic rescue package into law Friday, saying it will “deliver urgently needed relief” to Americans hard-hit by the sweeping shutdowns in response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.
Trump’s signing follows an extraordinary spectacle where hundreds of House members on Friday from both sides of the aisle spaced apart in the chamber and the overhead gallery to approve the bill with a voice vote.
A request by Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., for a recorded vote and a quorum call was gaveled down and the quick voice vote taken after almost four hours of debate.
After the vote on the massive piece of legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said, “What we are all working on right now is translating this into a toolkit for our members, so that any one of their constituents ... that they know immediately how they can avail themselves of what is in this legislation. It is there, it is substantial. We need to do more.”
The potential insistence of Massie for a roll call on the emergency $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill — which had been poised to pass by a voice vote Friday — had forced House leaders late Thursday to ask members if “they are able and willing” to rush back to Washington.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., in a Thursday night notice to members said, “Members are advised that it is possible this measure will not pass by voice vote. Members are encouraged to follow the guidance of their local and state health officials, however if they are able and willing to be in Washington D.C. by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, Members are encouraged to do so with caution.”
Members of the Illinois delegation who hurried back included Democrats Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Jan Schakowsky, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Mike Quigley, Cheri Bustos, Robin Kelly, Sean Casten, Lauren Underwood and Bill Foster. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., remained at home in Illinois in isolation until Sunday because he and his wife “began experiencing mild symptoms,” his spokeperson Maura Gillespie said.
“Took the last flight back tonight,” Schakowsky spokesman Miguel Ayala told the Sun-Times a little after midnight Thursday.
The Senate passed the giant measure 96-0. Given the spreading coronavirus pandemic, the House attending physician has been recommending telecommuting at a time when governors have issued stay-at-home orders.
Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy agreed to a voice vote since there is bipartisan agreement on the package.
Throwing a potential wrench in this plan was Massie, who announced his opposition to the measure and was threatening to demand a roll call.
The House sergeant at arms and attending physician were preparing for extraordinary social distancing measures Friday for members who return to the chamber.
“Members and staff must maintain 6-foot social distance spacing as much as practicable when in the offices or the Capitol. … Members will be required to cleanse their hands with waterless hand sanitizer before entering and departing the House Chamber and are requested to follow all health safety procedures while on the Floor.”
If there was a roll call vote, only 30 members at a time would have been allowed in the chamber to “minimize risk,” and they would have been rotated in alphabetically.