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Ron Johnson vows to force clerks to read the entire 700-page $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill

  • Johnson said it could delay the bill by up to 10 hours
  • He also plans to offer a series of amendments 
  • Series of votes expected Thursday
  • Mitch McConnell blasted it as a ‘smorgasbord of borrowed money’

The Daily Mail reports:

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is threatening to force Senate clerks to read through the entire 600-700 page $1.9 trillion coronavirus package and offer a series of amendments in order to stall Joe Biden‘s signature legislation.

Johnson issued the threat online and in a radio interview, blasting a proposal that enjoys broad popularity in opinion polls. It passed the House 219-212 this weekend on a mostly party line vote, with all Republicans voting against it. 

‘I’m going to make the Senate clerk read the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion bill. All several hundred pages of it,’ Johnson tweeted. 

‘Then I’m going to offer amendments. Many amendments. We need to highlight the abuse. This is not a COVID relief bill. It’s a boondoggle for Democrats,’ he said.

The process will ‘probably take about 10 hours,’ he told Wisconsin radio station WISN.

He drove home the point point on the Senate floor. ‘My suggestion: At least, while we’re considering this, let’s have a debate. Let’s have a discussion. Let’s consider the amendments. Let’s not do this in 20, 24, 30 hours. Let’s take the time to seriously consider what we are doing to our children,’ he said. 

The move comes as Biden continues to try to appeal to Republicans to back the package, after tweaking provisions on income groups that get $1,400 checks in order to assuage centrist Democrats.

Johnson, who has infuriated Democrats by promoting conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6th Capitol riot, said he would ‘lead the effort to resist’ the legislation.

The bill contains several provisions that have made it popular in opinion polls, even while attracting virtually no Republican support in Congress. It includes an extension of unemployment benefits and a supplemental unemployment benefit of $400 per week, an expanded child tax credit of up to $3,600, and more than $300 billion for state and local governments.

President Biden pitched the plan in a virtual speech to House Democrats holding their annual issues conference.  

‘Staying unified as we complete this process to pass the American Rescue Plan won’t just make a difference in our fight against COVID-19 and our efforts to rebuild the economy, it will also show the American people we are capable of coming together for what matters most to them,’ he said. 

‘They have lost faith in government. This is a time to reestablish that faith.’

‘It’s good policy and it’s good politics,’ he said of the package.

‘And I’m not sure we’ve ever seen something that is needed as badly as the American Rescue Plan that was as broadly popular.

‘We’ve never had anything this urgent and this ambitious that was so widely embraced. If we deliver on this it also builds momentum. It builds real enthusiasm as well. … this will make everything more possible to get it done. That’s why starting off this victory is so important because it’s so consequential to their lives,’ he said. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted what he called a ‘partisan bill’ on the floor Wednesday. He complained that education funds would go out over a period of years, and funds to boost rural agriculture would come out at a ‘slow drip.’

‘Doesn’t sound very urgent to me,’ he said. He also complained about adding money to the debt, although previous coronavirus bills also also contained ’emergency’ spending. He called it a ‘runaway government bailout’ and called it a ‘smorgasbord of borrowed money.’

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) pointed to broad Democratic support for a series of coronavirus packages under President Trump. 

‘Every Democrat voted for the proposed CARES Act that was engineered by the Trump administration. Party was pushed aside,’ he said. Democrats also backed the coronavirus bill in December.

He said the lack of GOP cooperation had forced Democrats to use a reconciliation procedure and rely on every Democrat to back it. ”It’s not a pretty seen. But it’s long overdue,’ he said.