WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Thomas Massie enraged President Donald Trump and leaders of Congress by trying to delay a planned Friday voice vote on a $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic rescue plan, drawing calls from the White House to throw him out of the Republican Party.
Even before the 49-year-old drew Trump’s ire on Twitter, he had been a thorn in the side of both parties for so long that he’s nicknamed “Mr. No.”
“Throw Massie out of Republican Party!” Trump tweeted on Friday.
Massie unsuccessfully sought to have a member-by-member vote in the House on the coronavirus bill, but officials used House rules to deny his request, allowing it to pass with a simple voice vote.
“I came to here to make sure our republic doesn’t die by unanimous consent in an empty chamber, and I request a recorded vote,” Massie said on the House floor before his proposal was rejected.
“I am not delaying the bill like (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi did last week,” Massie wrote on Twitter earlier. “The bill that was worked on in the Senate late last week was much better before Speaker Pelosi showed up to destroy it and add days and days to the process.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, a Democrat who is usually diplomatic in his manner of speaking, wrote on Twitter that “Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an asshole. He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity.”
Trump volleyed back, “Never knew John Kerry had such a good sense of humor! Very impressed!”
Here are some facts about Massie:
– Massie was first elected in 2012 with an assist from the conservative tea party movement, from a solidly Republican district in northern Kentucky along the Ohio River. An engineer by training who had built his own company on inventions he made, he beat two establishment Republicans in a party nominating contest, along the way.
– In his first House vote in 2013, Massie opposed the re-election of John Boehner as speaker. Massie aligned with conservative and libertarian Republicans who formed the Freedom Caucus in 2015, but did not join the caucus.
– By 2014, Massie had voted “no” so many times on legislation that Politico dubbed him “Mr. No.” He opposed about a third of measures that came up in his first year, voting against large and small bills sponsored by both parties, from defense spending legislation to a bill to award a gold medal to golf star Jack Nicklaus.
– Massie opposed many bills on a cost basis. He joked once that the buttons lawmakers push to register their votes on the House floor – which are labeled “yea” and “nay” – should be relabeled “spend” and “don’t spend,” USA Today reported.
But he voted in 2017 for hefty tax cuts promised by Trump, although they were projected to widen the deficit. “It is irresponsible to increase spending and decrease taxes, which is why I consistently vote to decrease spending and decrease taxes,” he said at the time.
– Massie voted twice against the election of former House Speaker Paul Ryan, a fellow Republican. Last year he was one of six Republicans to vote against his party’s candidate, Kevin McCarthy for speaker; Massie voted instead for Republican Jim Jordan, a founding member of the Freedom Caucus.
– Sometimes Massie has worked across party lines on civil liberties issues, such as by opposing bulk data collection by the government. Last year, Massie was the only Republican to vote against a measure rejecting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement, which opposes the Israeli occupation and policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
He was one of three House Republicans to vote against relief from Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and one of three Republicans that year to vote against additional sanctions on North Korea. One of the three, Representative Justin Amash, later left the party to become an independent.
Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Scott Malone, Nick Zieminski and Jonathan Oatis