Many members were privately furious about the apparent change in plan, with some blaming Pelosi and others pointing fingers at Massie.
McCarthy had been making the pitch to his members — in news conferences, conference calls and individual conversations — to not object to the voice vote on Friday. His argument: that the process will still allow for a debate and a chance to express opposition, without having to drag everyone back to Washington and slow down the bill’s passage.
As of late Thursday night, Massie remained a wild card, with senior aides in both parties saying they weren’t sure what he would do the next day. Earlier Thursday, Massie signaled that he was still wrestling with his decision. “They’re trying to convince us it should be a voice vote, it shouldn’t be recorded. And I’m struggling with this,” he said. “I’m having a real hard time with this.”
In addition to potential GOP disruptions, Pelosi said on the caucus call that there was one Democratic member who might demand a roll call vote on the massive package, though she did not name the lawmaker.
For some Democrats, the main point of contention involves the massive $150 billion rescue fund for state and local governments as they try to combat the crisis on the ground. That money can be awarded only to localities of more than 500,000 people — a major concern for lawmakers whose districts may not qualify for aid.
The $2 trillion-plus package, which has already been approved by the Senate, will provide immediate relief to workers, small businesses and major industries crippled by the crisis.
Hoping to head off this scramble, Pelosi strongly urged Democrats not to demand a roll call vote early on during the Thursday call, telling her caucus it would be “selfish” to require their colleagues to fly and drive in from across the country, potentially putting everyone’s health at risk.
Some rank-and-file Democrats — Reps. Dan Kildee of Michigan and Gerry Connolly of Virginia — also tried during the call to plead with their colleagues not to request a recorded vote during the time of national crisis. Instead, they urged, any lawmakers upset with the legislation should voice their objection through the congressional record.
Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) said it was irresponsible for lawmakers to get on planes, and called for remote voting. Peters was among nearly 70 House Democrats who sent a letter this week, urging their leadership to consider remote voting.
Still, the sergeant-at-arms and the Capitol physician have prepared for a potential surge of lawmakers to attend votes on Friday, and Saturday if needed.
Members received a sternly worded email on Thursday that included nearly a dozen new restrictions — from elevator usage to the speaker’s lobby — in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus.
Lawmakers will vote in pre-assigned groups of 30 to limit contact on the floor, and will be required to use hand sanitizer before and after leaving the chamber. Ahead of the vote, the chamber will be limited to members who are scheduled to speak.
On their way to votes, lawmakers are asked to ride with no more than one other person in an elevator, and most staff will be barred from the Capitol building itself.
But not every lawmaker will be present Friday. Several House members remain quarantined, including three — Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) — who say they developed symptoms in recent days.
And Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) — who, along with Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R-Fla.) has tested positive for the virus — remains hospitalized as he battles the illness.
Jake Sherman contributed to this report.