WASHINGTON — When Representative Thomas Massie listened to that Household leaders needed to go a $2 trillion stimulus evaluate to reply to the coronavirus with out so a lot as a recorded vote, he swung into outraged action.
He received into his black Tesla on Wednesday and commenced the travel from his property in northeastern Kentucky to the Capitol, established to item to its speedy passage and insist that lawmakers demonstrate up in particular person — in defiance of public health and fitness assistance — to sign up their assistance or opposition.
“I arrived listed here to make sure our republic does not die by unanimous consent and vacant chamber,” he claimed on the Household floor on Friday.
Mr. Massie, the libertarian whose contrarian streak has earned him the moniker “Mr. No,” in the long run unsuccessful when Dwelling leaders in each parties united to deflect his stunt, assembling ample lawmakers in the chamber for a quorum and letting the bill to move by voice vote just after all. President Trump signed the invoice later on in the afternoon, sending direct payments and jobless assist to taxpayers, support to states and hospitals battling the disease, and federal government bailouts to firms battered by the disaster.
But placing down his a single-male revolt expected scores of House associates to scramble late Thursday to return to Washington from all corners of the country, infuriated and terrified as they place their well being on the line amid a promptly spreading pandemic to grudgingly board empty flights or push back again to the Capitol.
Mr. Massie has never been one of the much more beloved customers of the House, but on Friday, he grew to become in limited order its most reviled agent, bringing alongside one another Democrats and Republicans — who experienced put in days combating bitterly about the financial assist invoice — all around shared contempt for one man.
“Looks like a 3rd fee Grandstander named @RepThomasMassie, a Congressman from, regretably, a truly Wonderful point out, Kentucky, wants to vote from the new Help save Our Personnel Bill in Congress,” President Trump wrote in his initial of two Twitter rebukes, in which he prompt that Mr. Massie must be expelled from the Republican Occasion. “He just desires the publicity.”
Not extended following, John Kerry, the previous secretary of point out and Democratic presidential nominee, took to Twitter himself to declare that Mr. Massie “has tested constructive for remaining an asshole,” and should really “be quarantined to protect against the unfold of his substantial stupidity.”
“Never knew John Kerry experienced these kinds of a excellent sense of humor!” Mr. Trump quipped in a unusual demonstrating of bipartisan camaraderie. “Very impressed!”
A reporter transpired on a bipartisan venting of spleen from Mr. Massie in the driveway outside the Capitol, in which Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, was overheard telling Consultant Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of New York, of the Kentuckian: “What a dumbass.”
Residence leaders had prepared to move the mammoth federal government aid deal by voice vote in an effort and hard work to permit much less associates to return to Washington, minimizing the wellbeing chance to lawmakers. But that system can be very easily stymied by just one vocal objector, and regardless of powering-the-scenes pleas sent to the Kentucky Republican from associates of his individual celebration, Mr. Massie refused to dedicate to allowing it.
That intended Democratic and Republican leaders, betting that Mr. Massie would have by means of on his threats, had to urge their customers to come back again to the Capitol to type a quorum, even as public overall health officials all over the region encouraged in opposition to vacation and substantial gatherings as a way of slowing the distribute of Covid-19, the condition caused by the coronavirus.
They bet right.
“The Structure necessitates that a quorum of users be existing to perform organization in the Home. Appropriate now, hundreds of thousands of critical, operating-course People in america are however essential to go to function during this pandemic,” Mr. Massie claimed in a prolonged statement on Friday morning saying that he would drive a vote. “Is it also substantially to question that the Household do its job, just like the Senate did?”
A self-described constitutional conservative who has been identified to sport a tie bearing the Gadsden flag, Mr. Massie, 49, typically normally takes lonely stands. He routinely tweets contrarian will take employing the hashtag #SassyWithMassie. In 2014, Mr. Massie derailed a bill the House was about to pass by voice vote to award an honor to the golfing legend Jack Nicklaus by demanding each and every lawmaker go on the file about no matter if they supported these types of a commendation.
Awarding a medal to Mr. Nicklaus, Mr. Massie argued, “is not a fantastic use of our resources,” incorporating that the golfer “didn’t die on the golf study course.”
His unwillingness to bend on even the smallest concern has charmed a slew of highly effective conservative teams, which include the Club for Development and FreedomWorks. His closest close friends on Capitol Hill are Consultant Justin Amash, the Republican turned impartial from Michigan who is also a frequent invoker of constitutional theory, and Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky.
Mr. Paul provoked the ire of his colleagues this 7 days for continuing to operate in the Capitol whilst awaiting coronavirus take a look at final results that came again as optimistic. (Mr. Massie, in a nod to his friendship with Mr. Paul, for yrs sported a “Stand With Rand” decal on his Tesla.)
But that approach located couple admirers on Friday. His major race challenger, Todd McMurtry, who has accused Mr. Massie of remaining insufficiently supportive of Mr. Trump, eagerly seized on the president’s reviews, declaring he agreed with Mr. Trump’s assessment that Mr. Massie was “a disaster for The us.”
Nor have been Mr. Massie’s colleagues — a vast majority of them more mature or with a pre-current overall health condition — amused. Quite a few had been privately terrified of the health hazards of touring. Shingles and lice, a single senior Democratic aide reported, were a lot more popular than Mr. Massie.
The commonly affable Agent Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, utilised Twitter to confront him, tagging Mr. Massie in his broadside.
“If you intend to delay passage of the #coronavirus reduction bill tomorrow morning, please recommend your 428 colleagues Correct NOW,” Mr. Phillips wrote, “so we can book flights and expend ~$200,000 in taxpayer money to counter your principled but terribly misguided stunt.”
A handful of Mr. Massie’s allies defended him on Friday and immediately appealed to Mr. Trump.
Mr. Massie “is a great man and a reliable conservative,” Agent Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, wrote on Twitter. “He believes in the Constitution strongly.”
Mr. Gosar added: “We won’t often agree on technique or policy. But he does not warrant this dressing down. Thomas—Hang difficult brother.”
Representative Chip Roy, Republican of Texas, told Mr. Trump on Twitter to “back off.”
“He is defending the Constitution currently by requiring a quorum,” Mr. Roy wrote. “There’s almost nothing 3rd price about that, @realDonaldTrump. I could miss vote if he forces roll call (flights) but it will move.”
But the overriding sentiment between lawmakers on Friday could have been finest place by Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, who also aired his grievances on Twitter, even as he identified as passage of the stimulus monthly bill a “Victory for America.”
“Large number of Congress Members had to be in Property Chamber and possibility an infection to by themselves & some others for the reason that of 1 arrogant Member,” Mr. King fumed. “If everyone gets contaminated, blood is on @RepThomasMassie’s hands!”