Washington (CNN)Congress doesn’t, uh, do all that much these days. Gridlock reigns, with Democrats controlling the House and Republicans in the Senate majority.
BUT late last week, as Congress rushed back to their home districts and states for a week-long Memorial Day, it appeared as though a massive $19 billion spending bill to provide relief to farmers as well as victims of tornadoes and hurricanes was going to pass.The Senate voted 85-8 on Thursday, sending the bill to the House. Because lots of House members were already gone, the Democratic majority tried to pass it via unanimous consent — a parliamentary maneuver that would have avoided a roll call vote. But Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, objected on Friday afternoon. And because unanimous consent requires unanimity, the measure stalled.When the measure was brought up again on Tuesday, Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, blocked it. (Massie wouldn’t say whether the blockade was coordinated or whether the GOP House leadership approved of it, according to CNN’s Sunlen Serfaty.)So why block legislation that provides much-needed relief dollars to victims of natural disasters? Here’s why:Read More1. Roy and Massie — and presumably the other Republicans blocking the aid bill — object to this much government spending being passed without all 435 members of the House voting on it. “I’m here to stop legislative malpractice today,” Massie said Tuesday. “Passing a $19 billion bill with no recorded vote is legislative malpractice.”2. They want more border security money in the bill. President Trump had long objected to any sort of disaster relief package that didn’t include money to beef up border security. He caved on that issue last week — tweeting out his support for the compromise legislation. But not all House Republicans were as willing to sign off on a deal without any border money.
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It’s not clear where this standoff ends. Trump returned to the US — from a four-day trip to Japan — Tuesday afternoon and hasn’t yet involved himself in solving this latest roadblock. It’s also not clear if he could. “The President doesn’t run Congress,” Massie told Sunlen Tuesday. “The President doesn’t get to pass bills here.”The Point: The full Congress won’t be back in Washington until next week. Which means this massive disaster relief package isn’t likely to go anywhere until then. And maybe not even then.