Sen. Ron Johnson, R- Wis., says he plans on delaying the vote on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill by requesting that Senate clerks read what he called a 600-700 page "Democratic boondoggle."
The National Review reported that Johnson made his remarks on a local station in his home state, News/Talk 1130. The report said that Johnson wants every senator to know what exactly is in the bill. The tactic will likely delay the vote by about 10 hours.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told "The Story" Wednesday that the package, which was passed by the House, is "a wildly out-of-proportion response to where the country is at the moment."
"This $1.9 trillion bill is the same size of the bill we passed last April, right in the middle of the pandemic," McConnell told host Martha MacCallum. "This is not the same country we had one year ago. Only 9% of this $1.9 trillion is related to health care, and less than 1% of this $1.9T bill is related to vaccines."
There are still unknowns in the Senate on the timeline of taking up the coronavirus bill. The Senate meets at noon on Thursday and could hold a vote on proceeding to the bill. That entails 20 hours of debate. But lawmakers are still waiting a score from the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office.
Only after the Senate either burns through the 20 hours of debate does what’s known as a "vote-a-rama" begin. That’s where the Senate takes vote after vote after vote, often around the clock for hours, on various amendments or efforts to change the bill. The final vote is final passage of the measure.
Without an agreement, this process could chew up days in the Senate, potentially consuming all weekend.
Then, the altered bill goes to the House. Whatever the Senate approves will be different from what the House approved last week. The House may have to wrestle with those changes to get the votes to align with the Senate and send the package to the President by mid-month. That’s when many additional unemployment benefits expire.
The battle is also emerging as an early test of Biden’s ability to hold together his party’s fragile congressional majorities — just 10 votes in the House and an evenly divided 50-50 Senate.
House leadership announced the sudden change in plans Wednesday. The House was to vote Thursday on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but instead the House approved the police reform measure late Wednesday and cancelled votes for the remainder of the week.
A House security memo released later in the day told members to use underground tunnels to traverse the Capitol and to have their staff work remotely on Thursday.
The change was due, in part, to a potential security threat at the Capitol Thursday Fox News has learned from multiple sources. March 4 is a date that far-right conspiracy theorists believe that former President Trump could return to power.
A senior House Democratic leadership source told Fox News that the decision was made to cancel votes for the rest of the week "partially" due to the risks of the threat presented to lawmakers by the United States Capitol Police.
Police announced Wednesday increased security at the Capitol amid new potential threats to lawmakers and the Capitol complex.
"We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4," the U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement. "We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers."
Lawmakers are still reeling from Jan. 6 riot when pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, destroyed property, threatened lawmakers and forced Congress to evacuate.
There was some concern in the House that "canceling" the rest of the week would send the wrong message that the "terrorists win," sources told Fox News. However, given the mental scar tissue among members and staff of the Jan. 6 attack, leadership decided to take the opportunity to stay late and wrap up late Wednesday.
Fox News' Chad Pergram, Marisa Schultz, Charlie Creitz and Michael Ruiz and the Associated Press contributed to this report.