House readies vote on ‘Phase 3.5’ coronavirus bill: What to expect

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The House meets Thursday morning to consider the “Phase 3.5” coronavirus bill and a measure to establish a select committee on coronavirus oversight – amid concerns from some lawmakers over the safety of in-person voting.

Fox News is told not to expect votes in the House until noon. The House will likely remain in session until about 4 p.m. ET, if not later.

There could be multiple votes on the floor: one procedural (ordering the previous question), the “rule” for the select committee, adoption of the resolution of the select committee and then passage of the coronavirus legislation.

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Expect many Republicans to oppose the select committee. There will be some bipartisan opposition to the coronavirus bill. But Fox is told it is expected to pass overwhelmingly.

Read on for what to expect.

How the votes will work

Lawmakers will be told to stay in their offices, then come to the floor to vote and retreat to their offices until it’s time to vote again.

We are anticipating about two hours of debate on the coronavirus bill. Fox News is told the “quorum” question will be an issue and will not be contested.

The voting will look a little different Thursday and the format is still in play.

The House will likely take at least two roll call votes, if not more. These will be electronic votes. But the House will aim to minimize the number of members present on the floor at any one time. The vote will likely stretch outover an hour or two.

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When reporting to vote, members will be asked to come into the chamber through three different doors: one facing the Rayburn elevators, the center door facing the Will Rogers Statue and the door which faces the House steps. Members will be called into the chamber to vote in clusters of 20 at a time. In a ten minute period, each member will have 30 seconds to cast their ballot. Members will then exit through the Speaker’s Lobby. The House leadership is encouraging members to exit the House chamber area through a door different from the one they entered. The leadership has told members to show up when they are called and not to linger.

They think they may have as many as 360 of the 429 current members of the House here Thursday. But Fox is told the 360 figure could be high. Fox News has been in contact with a number of members today who have underscored travel problems getting to Washington. One member told Fox they were on a flight with nine people. Of those on board, five were lawmakers. Three were pilots.

Concern over safety

There continues to be a lot of concern about just how safe tomorrow’s vote will be.

“We weren’t social distanced the last time,” asserted one member about the vote on the Phase 2 coronavirus bill, costing $2.2 trillion. “Members are entitled. They don’t listen. ‘Come in this door. Go out this door.’ We will f--k this up again.”

And that’s why some members fear Thursday’s session could exacerbate the pandemic.

“We’re basically running a nursing home here,” said one member, referring to a number of elderly members. “Somebody’s going to get sick or put on a ventilator.”