House members will pass the coronavirus relief bill at some point today. The big question is what else they may pass around on the way back to hold a voice vote. Representatives are traveling quickly back to the capitol after Rep. Thomas Massie made it clear that he would force a voice vote on the CARES Act, and his colleagues are less than pleased to take a break from their social distancing:

Massie’s unpopularity stretches to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, too. Trump urged House Republicans to expel Massie from their caucus this morning on Twitter:

Thanks to Massie, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer had to call the House back into session. It takes at least 216 members to establish a quorum (down from 218 thanks to vacancies at the moment), which means hundreds of politicians had to travel through airports and on airplanes to get back to Washington DC. That’s not only risky in terms of spreading the coronavirus even further, it’s also expensive as hell, Massie’s colleagues reminded him:

Leaders in both parties encouraged members to return to D.C. for the vote if they are willing and able, while the majority whip asked offices to let them know ASAP if their bosses were planning on making the trip. But many lawmakers are furious: they don’t want to be recorded as absent on what is likely to be the biggest and most historic piece of legislation that they will ever vote on. Yet the short notice, canceled or limited flights and states with different safety guidelines have created a whole lot of headaches — and anger — among members.

Take this tweet from freshman Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.): “Dear @RepThomasMassie: If you intend to delay passage of the #coronavirus relief bill tomorrow morning, please advise your 428 colleagues RIGHT NOW so we can book flights and expend ~$200,000 in taxpayer money to counter your principled but terribly misguided stunt. #thankyou.” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), meanwhile, called it “disgraceful” and “irresponsible” of Massie to force members to come back. And one senior GOP aide put it this way to your Huddle host: “This is the single biggest shit show I have seen here. Pure fucking chaos.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had been making the pitch to his members — in pressers, conference calls and individual conversations — to not object to the voice vote. But Massie remains a wild card: he thinks holding a vote without a quorum is unconstitutional and is wary of big government spending. Remember, this is the lawmaker who once forced his colleagues to take 35 roll call votes on non-controversial bills, leading to a marathon, late-night voting session just as the government was on the brink of a partial shutdown.

GOP leadership has been in contact with Massie about his concerns, according to a Republican leadership aide. Yet no one is quite sure where he will land and Massie hasn’t ruled out forcing a recorded vote. “They’re trying to convince us it should be a voice vote, it shouldn’t be recorded. And I’m struggling with this,” he told a radio station Thursday. Trump, meanwhile, had this to say: “Let’s see whether or not we have a grandstander.” All the latest on the last-minute drama, from Heather, Sarah and yours truly:

Pelosi insists on holding the vote today to get the bill implemented ASAP, perhaps embarrassed now that she didn’t call members back sooner. When will the vote be taken? They can’t do any voting until they get to a quorum, and it’s anyone’s guess when enough members will have checked in to reach that time. Thanks to declarations from Massie and Justin Amash, Pelosi may need to wait until she’s sure she has 216 votes for passage, too.

One thing’s for sure — Hoyer doesn’t want Massie or anyone else to use this brief session as a soapbox. He has specifically excluded the traditional access to the floor for one-minute speeches today:

How will they conduct the vote while maintaining social distancing standards? The House chamber is precisely the kind of mass gathering that lawmakers and governors have exhorted Americans not to hold. It’s a crowded place in normal circumstances, especially during a roll-call vote. Massie might force more than one of those today, too, using procedural roadblocks to slow down progress just as he did before the shutdown. Even if they shuttle in and out of the room, they will have to come in close proximity to each other repeatedly all day long. By the end of the day, the entire House will have to self-quarantine for the next two weeks.

That, of course, is on Massie — but it’s also on Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell. At the very beginning of the outbreak in the US, they both had opportunities to set up a protocol for remote voting to avoid this very scenario. In a pandemic, Congress has to be able to function, especially to oversee the operation of an executive branch operating under emergency powers. Massie is at least correct in one sense that the House Speaker cannot just assume a without-objection status on massive spending outlays. Put that together with the average age of representatives and senators and their vulnerability to pandemic-type infections and you have a recipe for disaster.

It’s almost too late for this crisis, but whatever remains of Congress after the COVID-19 pandemic abates should take up remote voting as one of its first orders of business.