WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – After a dramatic morning on the House floor, lawmakers sent the largest relief bill in U.S. history to the president’s desk Friday.
President Trump signed the $2 trillion coronavirus package into law in the Oval Office later that afternoon, but House members had to drive through the night and fly on empty planes to make it happen.
“It’s 5:30 in the morning. Just drove in from Knoxville,” Rep. Tim Burchett, R-TN, said in a video he tweeted.
“I flew in this morning with three other congressmen, two from Arkansas and one from Mississippi, and two citizens,” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-TN, said in a similar video.
The mad dash back to Washington came after Rep. Thomas Massie, R-KY, threatened to delay the passage by forcing an in-person recorded vote, despite calls for social distancing.
“I came here to make sure our republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent,” Massie said on the House floor.
But since the House was able to gather at least 216 members inside the chamber, Massie’s push failed and lawmakers sent the next round of coronavirus relief to President Trump.
During speeches on the floor Friday, many of Massie’s fellow Republicans agreed the bill isn’t perfect, but Americans need the help now.
“Who among us can question the crisis we’re in and the needs of the people we serve,” said Rep. Steve Womack, R-AR.
Womack noted the imminent relief for business owners, large and small, and their workers, while Rep. Mike Rogers, R-AL, welcomed the assistance for struggling rural hospitals.
“By enabling them to buy essential supplies, build needed infrastructure for broadband and telehealth, and keep cash flowing so they remain able to help patients,” Rogers said.
Right after the vote, members headed back home to their districts feeling victorious, promising a fourth round of relief to Americans in the coming months.
“We’ve endured tough times in our history, but we’ve always come back stronger and more resilient,” said Rep. David Kustoff, R-TN.
The bill will also send at least $1,200 to most Americans by mid-April.