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Ron Johnson to Force Reading of 600-Page COVID Relief Bill to Delay Vote

Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) at a committee hearing in Washington, D.C., August 6, 2020 (Toni Sandys/Reuters)

Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wisc.) reportedly plans to force Senate clerks to read out the entire $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill on the Senate floor, potentially delaying the vote by as much as 10 hours.

Johnson told News/ Talk 1130, a local radio station in Wisconsin, that he plans to “make them read their 600-700 page bill” to ensure “Every member of the Senate has time to read” the bill and “highlight that this is not relief and that it’s a Democratic boondoggle.”

The delay will come in addition to the 20 hours of debate time already scheduled for the legislation.

Unanimous consent from all 100 senators is needed to waive a read-out on the Senate floor — most bills bypass a reading by unanimous consent in order to save time. 

Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R., S.D.) said he is “told it’s going to be more like 10” hours.

It’s going to occur at the beginning so it would be before the clocks starts so it doesn’t go against the 20 hours, it’s on top of the 20,” he said.

Johnson said it is not his intention to “make it hurt,” but instead he hopes to highlight “how gross this is and how unnecessary this is.”

Republicans have criticized the bill as being too large and wasteful and have been frustrated by Democrats’ use of budget reconciliation to pass the bill without bipartisan support.

“Their bill costs about $2 trillion. That’s roughly the same size as the entire CARES Act that saved our health system and economy through months of shutdowns,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said on the Senate floor.

“Even liberal experts admit this is far out of proportion to what’s needed now, with vaccines going into arms and the economy already primed to roar back,” he said. “Amazingly, Democrats managed to allocate less than 9 percent of their massive bill to the entire healthcare response, and less than 1 percent to the vaccinations that will finish this fight.”

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