Last Friday, the House was set to pass the CARES Act, providing $2trn in coronavirus relief funding, but Mr Massie – citing parliamentary rules found in the Constitution – called for a “recorded vote,” rather than a voice vote, which would have forced a majority of Congress to be present on the floor to vote on the bill.
The threat sent members of Congress scrambling to get back to the Capitol as many had returned home and began social distancing to prevent potential exposure to the coronavirus.
New York Republican Pete King said Mr Massie had become “the most hated man on Capitol Hill.” Mr King said he had to leave his house at 4:30 a.m. to make the drive to Washington, D.C.
“Congress should show up to work if they’re telling trucks and grocery store baggers to show up to work. A congressman making $174,000 with health benefits should sure as hell show up,” Mr Massie said.
In an interview with Fox News, Mr Massie said he was simply trying to uphold the Constitution by making the members of the House show up to vote.
“I was just standing up for the Constitution, and I did it in a professional manner that did not delay the bill. This is the biggest transfer of wealth in human history,” Mr Massie said.
Mr Massie’s actions earned him scorn from his House colleagues – the average age of House members is 58 years old – and from President Donald Trump.
“Looks like a third rate Grandstander named @RepThomasMassie, a Congressman from, unfortunately, a truly GREAT State, Kentucky, wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers Bill in Congress,” Mr Trump tweeted.
Mr Massie responded to the president’s tweet a few hours later.
“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,’” he tweeted.
Mr Trump continued his barrage on Twitter against the Congressman, even retweeting a post by John Kerry in which he claims Mr Massie “tested positive for being an asshole,” to which Mr Trump said “Never knew John Kerry had such a good sense of humor! Very impressed!”
The president even went so far as to say the GOP should “throw Massie out of [the] Republican Party” in a tweet.
Ultimately Mr Massie’s attempt at forcing a recorded vote was foiled when the presiding member of Congress determined enough members were present to constitute a quorum, and the vote was passed with a quick voice vote.
“The tragedy of this bill is it’s a massive wealth transfer from the middle class to the moneyed class,” he said. “Just going by the numbers – the most that somebody qualifies for is $1,200 under this bill. Where’s the rest of that money going?”