The United States (and the rest of the world) are in an outright panic over the 21st-century version of the black death, the plague called COVID-19, and now, after weeks of the stalled federal response to the threat, even Donald Trump — the man who initially considered the outbreak a “hoax” being used by his political opponents to damage his reputation — is beginning to show signs of taking the pandemic seriously.
Yet, after the House of Representatives worked into the wee hours of Saturday morning to pass an emergency bill that would provide much-needed relief to an American public slowly realizing the magnitude of the damage caused by Trump’s bungling denial of expert advice in early days of the coronavirus’ spread — a bill that would provide free virus testing, two weeks of paid sick leave, enhanced jobless benefits, increased food aid, and higher funding for Medicaid benefits — a single Republican congressman is preventing the bill from being forwarded to the Senate for consideration and passage before it can be signed into law by the president.
Unsurprisingly, that irresponsible and extraordinarily selfish obstructor is Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX), a Tea Party member and one of the most asinine conservatives in Congress.
According to The Washington Post, Gohmert is objecting to the fact that the rapidly passed bill — the contents of which were fiercely negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin — “wasn’t released with enough time for lawmakers to study the text, and he hasn’t yet agreed to a technical change sought by Republicans to address virus-related sick leave for small firms.”
Yes, Americans across the country are contracting the virulent COVID-19 virus in daily-increasing numbers and many are suffering from its acute respiratory symptoms while the elderly and infirm are succumbing to the disease and dying at a rate that far exceeds any ordinary flu and one unfeeling Republican is holding up a bill that could help both the economy and prevent the further spread of the virus by people who have to choose between earning a living and no longer dwelling among the living.
CNN’s Senior Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju tweeted out a quote from Congressman Gohmert that showed how far his head truly extends up into his posterior that he felt compelled to slow down emergency legislation when every second of delay could mean additional American deaths.
“I cannot in good conscience give my consent to something that has not been finished or made available to Members of Congress before it is up for a vote,” Gohmert says
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 16, 2020
Oddly, there wasn’t a peep from Gohmert when the then-Republican-led House passed a tax bill offering a windfall to billionaires and corporations under circumstances that were hardly an emergency yet was passed without giving legislators the chance to read the hastily-drawn final draft of the bill.
Reaction to Rep. Gohmert’s obstructionism was appropriately savage as these Twitter posts demonstrate.
He can't in good conscience give his consent to something too long for him to read.
— Ceasar8675309 (Jenny changed numbers) (@kingofkings247) March 16, 2020
Like he cares about anyone but himself
— Eric (@Eric55581746) March 16, 2020
Except for the GOP TAX PLAN and ACA REPEAL in 2017.
— mriveted (@mriveted) March 16, 2020
Funny, that statement sounds like one that is being made by someone who doesn't have a "good conscience."
— Erin (@doopergirl) March 16, 2020
This man has no conscience. Don’t all sociopaths claim otherwise?
— Philippe du Col (@PhilippeduCol) March 16, 2020
"I cannot in good conscience support a bill that will help millions of Americans from dying. Sincerely, a typical Republican."
— Tyler Gorash (@TurbidTG1) March 16, 2020
Translation "It's a bill to help save lives. Can't rush that. I mean it's not like it's a tax cut bill or something." – Rep Louie Gohmert (R-Asshole)
— Alan (@JudahTheHammer) March 16, 2020
Let’s hope that the surviving voters in Gohmert’s east Texas district have memories long enough to recall how anxious he was to prevent them from receiving any federal assistance when the nation was suffering from a deadly emergency and every second was of the essence.
This particular strain of Republican heartlessness must be eradicated from Congress and prevented from infecting the minds of other Americans.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.