Louie Gohmert could block House coronavirus bill

Rep. Louie Gohmert could block the House’ final passage of the bipartisan coronavirus relief package Monday over concerns about last-minute updates to the bill.

The House was set to make technical changes to the package on Monday before passing on a unanimous consent rule, which can be derailed by just one member.

“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,” Mr. Gohmert, Texas Republican, said in a statement.

Mr. Gohmert said he has spoken to both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and President Trump about his concerns.

“My constituents did not elect the California delegation to represent them, they elected me — and that’s what I am trying to do,” he said.

After a feverish 48 hours of negotiations, the House passed a massive relief package just after midnight Saturday to alleviate the pressure on families and hourly workers.

It mandates free testing for the coronavirus, funds more unemployment programs and pays for sick leave for those who contract the virus or need to care for someone that does if they’re at a company with fewer than 500 employees.

The bill also shores up food security programs for vulnerable communities, such the elderly and schoolchildren and bolsters state Medicaid programs so health providers can handle an influx of patients.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who helped craft the White House-approved package with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, acknowledged Sunday there were technical changes that needed to be made before it even reached the Senate. He said he was speaking with senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, on Saturday about the bill.

“We are hearing feedback that certain small businesses are concerned about the burden of this,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “I think there’s a lot of bipartisan support. We hope they pass this bill. If not, we’ll work with the center on whatever minor changes we need.”

The Senate will take up the House bill once handed over and is working in the meantime to pass FISA reauthorization and reform after it lapsed Sunday.

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