Congressman Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has put an end to a number of bills that Boehner planned on sneaking past Congress – and his ingenious method involves a 500-yard dash.
Much to the chagrin of the American public, members of Congress rarely vote on the hundreds of bills that are passed per year.
Most Congressional bills are passed in a nearly empty chamber, and Massie explained to the Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Cincinnati, members of Congress like to use voice votes to pass unpopular bills.
There’s two reasons Congress loves the voice vote: the first is that because there’s no record of who voted, they can’t be held accountable when the bill passes.
The second reason is that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has sole discretion to decide if there is a “quorum” (218 congressmen) present in the room sufficient to take a voice vote. Massie says frequently there’s only ten congressmen present. All Boehner has to do is squint and say that there’s a quorum present and he may hold a voice vote.
As long as no one requests a recorded vote, Boehner is free to do this.
That’s where Massie’s 500-yard sprint comes in.
Massie says he’s discovered that "it’s about a 500-yard dash between my office and the floor of the House." So, when Boehner starts to do voice votes, Massie sprints to the House floor and demands a recorded vote. That means there has to be a real quorum: 218 live people on the record with their votes. Several unpopular bills have died as a result of Massie’s dash.
Passing bills without recording votes, and without Congressmen present, frustrates the democratic process, and “it happens way too often,” said Massie.
“It only takes one congressman to stand up and say ‘Mr. Speaker, I request a recorded vote’… and I’ve done that a lot,” Massie said, to laughter from the Young Americans for Liberty students.