Two days after passing a comprehensive coronavirus testing-related funding and paid sick leave mandate bill, the House of Representatives is attempting to approve a “technical corrections” amendment to the official bill before it moves to the Senate.
“Technical corrections” are often used to shore up minor issues within legislation, or to tweak specific provisions to make them more amenable in the Senate. Most technical correction documents are brief — often as brief as one or two pages long.
But a draft obtained by The Texan revealed an 87-page behemoth.
House leadership intends on passing this correction by unanimous consent — wherein the body of representatives need not be present to approve passage — as members have already left D.C. after Speaker Pelosi declared she was closing House proceedings in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, if a member objects to the unanimous consent motion, the full body will be required to pass the legislation. In this instance, it would require Congress to return to vote on the 87-page “technical” amendment.
Originally, House leadership aimed to pass the measure before the final draft was confirmed, but Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01) threatened to object to the unanimous consent motion unless the changes were read aloud.
Gohmert’s effort now forces the House to finalize the corrections before they are approved by the body.
He stated, “Last night some of the elected members of Congress heard that substantial changes were being made to H.R. 6201, the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” that the House passed in the wee hours Saturday morning without being afforded the luxury of time to read the final bill before we voted. I read the 9 pm version but was given no time to read or compare the midnight version.”
“Once again, because the Saturday morning bill was rushed so hysterically to passage, it requires more pages of changes, supposedly about 46 pages of ‘technical corrections,’ some of which are truly substantive and not just ‘technical’ corrections to a bill that was 110 pages long. The last draft of the ‘technical changes’ I saw was 87 pages long,” Gohmert said.
“The Democrats are writing the so-called ‘corrections’ as we speak. Having someone here in DC prepared to object forces the Democrat leadership to at least have the law changes drafted before they are approved by a Unanimous Consent vote. I cannot in good conscience give my consent to something that has not been finished or made available to Members of Congress before it is up for a vote.”
Gohmert was one of six members of the Texas delegation to vote against the original bill in the early hours of Saturday morning, concerned over the lack of time members had to read the bill and the fact that there were no opportunities for debate and amendments.
The main policy grievances from those in opposition to the bill primarily center on the federally-mandated paid sick leave program(s) it institutes. Funding for coronavirus testing is not the source of Gohmert’s concern.
The legislation creates a brand new federal paid sick leave mandate for small and medium-sized businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The mandate did not go through the normal committee process reserved for such significant statutory changes. Instead, House Democrats tacked the measure on the bill, provided “final” text of the legislation to members around midnight, and had members vote on it within an hour.
However, with 87 pages of “technical” changes pushed forward today, the final version of the bill was apparently not passed at all on Saturday morning.
“I will not give my consent without first reading these very serious changes that will hopefully minimize bankruptcies caused by the virus rather than causing more. The final draft has still not been finished. I have spoken with Kevin McCarthy and the President who both understand my concerns. It’s easy to talk to the President when we completely share the same driving desire to make America even greater,” Gohmert concluded.
With the President set on the Senate making changes to the House’s bill, that will require all members to come back to D.C. to finalize whatever emerges.
A source close to the situation told The Texan, “This is not about the testing and vaccines. That’s already done. This is about making sure the federal government doesn’t bankrupt small businesses in their ham-handed attempt to save them — written by staffers who have never run a small business, never had to make a payroll.”
At the moment, the corrections draft has not been made public and it still could be changed, but below is the draft as it stands:
Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.