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Many House members coming back to Washington in anticipation of vote on coronavirus stimulus

CNN logo CNN 3/27/2020 By Manu Raju, Senior Congressional Correspondent

Many House members are scrambling to book flights and return to Washington amid concerns that they could be requested to show up in person and vote on the stimulus, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

The fear is that one member could prevent the House from approving the $2 trillion bill by voice vote, forcing them instead to cast a roll-call vote in person. That has angered many members worried about traveling during the public health emergency.

On a conference call with Democratic members on Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that if they are unable to pass the bill by voice vote, then they would have a roll call vote on final passage on Friday, according to three sources on the call.

Slideshow by photo services

Several members told CNN that comment caused confusion since House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer previously indicated to members that any roll-call vote would occur Saturday instead. That means members who want to cast a vote on the historic measure need to show up on Friday to have their position recorded.

On that Thursday call, Pelosi made clear her strong opposition to any attempt by a lawmaker to force House members to return to Washington for the vote, saying such a move would be "inexcusable" and amount to "selfishness," according to two sources on the call.

Pelosi, along with Hoyer and a number of other rank-and-file members, were blunt about their preference for the vote to occur by voice Friday, rather than an in-person roll-call vote. 

Several members expressed concerns about traveling amid the coronavirus pandemic, noting they have health issues or live with someone with health concerns. Others noted their challenges in traveling back to Washington. At least 10 members expressed their concerns on the call, noting that the bill will pass regardless so it makes little sense to potentially endanger members' health or their families' health, one of the sources said.

On Capitol Hill, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican, is viewed as the most likely member to try to force the vote after indicating publicly his reservations at the idea of letting the bill pass by a voice vote. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, told CNN on Wednesday that she might force a recorded vote, but Democrats don't believe she will.

Neither Massie nor Ocasio-Cortez responded to requests for comment Thursday.

a view of a large window: A view of Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) © Susan Walsh/AP A view of Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, March 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)


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