Donald Trump used Friday morning to issue a pair of tweets heaping vitriol against Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie for delaying the $2 trillion coronavirus economic bill that concluded with a call to “WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!" Massie faces a June primary challenge against attorney Todd McMurtry in his safely red 4th Congressional District, and the incumbent may have just opened the door to a world of pain by inflaming Trump, who used another tweet to accuse him of aiding “Radical Left Democrats.”
Massie, a libertarian-leaning ultraconservative who once called himself too “crazy” to belong to the far-right House Freedom Caucus, has spent his nearly eight years in Congress pissing off the House GOP leadership and voting against major legislation from the right. At least until a few days ago, though, Massie still was working to appeal to the Trump White House in order to win renomination. In February Massie even ran TV ads on Fox in South Florida, which just happens to be the location of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago lair, that castigated McMurtry as a “Trump hater.” Massie hoped that Trump would see these commercials and endorse him, but that never happened.
And now it never will. While Massie has voted against legislation that Trump wanted, he went even further on Thursday than ever before when he indicated that he’d file a procedural objection that would prevent the House from quickly passing the coronavirus bill through a voice vote that wouldn’t require members to return to Washington.
Massie’s colleagues were especially pissed about the idea of increasing their risk of contracting COVID-19 by traveling, especially since several members of Congress have already tested positive. Massie was not remotely sympathetic, saying, “I'm having a really hard time with this. Because they're saying, well it's hard to travel, yadda yadda yadda,” and he went ahead and insisted on an in-person roll call vote for the legislation.
Massie was greeted on Friday morning with tweets from Trump that said Massie was a “third rate Grandstander” who “wants to vote against the new Save Our Workers Bill in Congress.” Trump continued by saying that Massie “just wants the publicity” and said that Massie’s attempt to delay legislation he couldn’t stop was “dangerous” and “costly.” After whining about having to work with Democrats, Trump called for Massie to be thrown out of the party.
It’s not clear what Trump meant by that, but Massie insisted afterwards that he wasn’t going to become an independent and that he was “at least second rate.” (We’re still waiting for Massie’s reaction to former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s tweet saying, “Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an asshole. He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity.”)
Ultimately, a majority of the House ended up coming back on Friday. Massie still went ahead with his procedural objection even after Trump attacked him, but the assembled members quickly overruled him and passed the bill. Massie insisted afterwards that he’d done the right thing, saying of the House leaders, “The Constitution requires a quorum to pass a bill, and they were planning to subvert the Constitution.”
Massie also insisted that several of his colleagues “quietly expressing their support to me,” though he didn’t name anyone. We’re guessing that most of them felt more like Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, though. ABC reporter John Parkinson tweeted that when Massie requested his roll call vote, the Democratic congressman responded, “Shut the f-ck up.” The good news for Massie is that, by choosing to go to war with Trump, he may have ensured that these people won’t be his colleagues for much longer.
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