UPDATED 12:45 PM PT – Thursday, March 4, 2021
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he will demand the Senate clerks to read aloud the entire coronavirus relief bill on the Senate floor, which could take up to 10 hours. Johnson confirmed his intentions Thursday and said he is not trying to merely delay the passage of the legislation.
“I’m trying to actually return the Senate to a more deliberative body,” Johnson stated. “When it relates to a $1.9 trillion spending package, let me put it a different way, $1,900 billion.”
Johnson is expected to force a reading of a version with changes to the 630-page House-passed bill.
“I feel bad for the clerks who are going to have to read it, but it’s just important,” the Wisconsin senator noted. “So often we rush these massive bills that are hundreds if not thousands of pages long. Nobody has time to read them. So you start considering something you haven’t even read.”
Republicans argued the bill is too expensive and includes provisions unrelated to fighting the pandemic, but serve Democrats’ agenda.
“We don’t need a $1.9 trillion bill,” Johnson said. “The vast majority of this has nothing to do with COVID relief. Evidence by the fact that nobody knows exactly how much, but probably close to $1 trillion of the previous $4 trillion we’ve already authorized is not yet spent.”
He also highlighted the necessity to expose unnecessary spending to Americans, such as on the bridge connecting New York and Canada. He suggested these wish-list priorities only get passed when bills are not evaluated thoroughly and are voted on quickly.
Johnson argued lawmakers on both sides of the aisle need to reestablish the deliberative process and use the remaining funds from past relief bills to help fund needed projects. If the entire bill is read, the Senate will proceed to 20-hours of debate and then into a vote-a-rama of amendments. Johnson stressed every amendment to the bill offered by lawmakers should be considered.