Congress

GOP Rep. Thomas Massie Risks Lawmakers’ Health, Trump’s Ire to Prove a Point

The Kentucky congressman has opposed measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump just called him a "third rate grandstander"

In this Tuesday, May 28, 2019 file photo, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol after he blocked a unanimous consent vote on a long-awaited hurricane disaster aid bill in the chamber.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

He has earned the label “Mr No” for his opposition to bills in Congress. He refused to self-quarantine when someone who had attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in February tested positive for the coronavirus though he had been there also. And on Friday, he was called a “third-rate Grandstander” by President Donald Trump.

At the moment it is hard to find many people happy with Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, a 49-year-old Kentucky congressman who forced members of the House of Representatives to race back to Washington, D.C., in the midst of a pandemic especially dangerous for older people, as many of them are. 

They feared Massie would threaten passage of the $2 trillion economic relief package by demanding a recorded vote instead of a voice vote and he did. Friday morning he tweeted:

At least 216 representatives would need to show up to vote on the floor so that the bill, known as the CARES Act, would not be delayed.

In the end, Massie lacked the support of other members for his move, and after three hours of debate the House passed the bill in a voice vote. It was headed the Trump's desk Friday afternoon.

Friday morning Trump was tweeting that Massie should be thrown out of the Republican party.

Rep. Peter King, a fellow Republican from Long Island, did not name Massie but called his action “disgraceful” and “irresponsible.” 

“Because of one Member of Congress refusing to allow emergency action entire Congress must be called back to vote in House,” King tweeted. “Risk of infection and risk of legislation being delayed.”

Massie has not been sympathetic. 

"I'm having a really hard time with this. Because they're saying, well it's hard to travel, yadda yadda yadda," Massie said, according to Kentucky's Courier Journal. "Well, last night, 96 out of 100 Senators voted. 

The Senate on Wednesday approved the bill 96-0, but Massie has made it clear on social media that he disapproves.

On Twitter, he has criticized measures taken to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus and to flatten the curve of increasing infections. He was one of 17 Republicans who did not vote for the earlier Coronavirus Relief Bill two weeks ago that provides free virus testing for those who do not have insurance, paid sick leave, other family and medical leave programs and additional aid for food.

He told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he had he been in Washington, D.C., he would have voted no because he was concerned the bill would put small companies out of business.

Massie is running for his fifth term in Congress and the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Julia Fair in February wrote a profile of him. It began like this: 

“Inventor. Blogger. Father. Off-the-grid farmer. Believer in the "deep state" and raw milk. 

Oh, and Congressman.

Thomas Massie holds many titles. Which makes him hard to explain.”

He is an engineer educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who invented a device that gives computer users a sense of touch and which has since been used to simulate surgery in training. He built an off-the-grid house powered by solar panels, told CNN he was a believer in the Deep State and wants to legalize raw milk. Earlier in the year, he was one of just four representatives to oppose making lynching a federal hate crime.

Massie also once called Secretary of State John Kerry's political science degree from Yale University "pseudoscience" during a dispute over climate change.

"It's somewhat appropriate that someone with a pseudoscience degree is here pushing pseudoscience before our committee today," Massie told Kerry during a congressional hearing in 2019.

On Friday, Kerry got his comeback.

--Emilie Mutert contributed to this article.

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