Sen. Ron Johnson forces reading of COVID relief bill, delaying debate

Ron Johnson
Susan Walsh

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate began debate Thursday on the American Rescue Plan, but a move by Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson could delay a vote on the COVID-19 relief bill by several hours.

Sen. Johnson objected to forgoing the reading bill, forcing the Senate clerk to read all 628 pages on the Senate floor. It’s a process that could take more than 10 hours.

“If they’re going to add nearly $2T to the national debt at least we should know what’s in the bill,” Sen. Johnson tweeted after his objection.

While the reading of the bill will delay debate on the bill and the eventual vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted that he thought it was “great” that Sen. Johnson called for the entire bill to be read.

Johnson says he may try other measures beyond the reading of the bill to try to delay the vote.

Republicans have objected to the bill’s $1.9 trillion price tag, but Democrats argue the bill provides much-needed relief to American businesses and individuals, including another round of $1,400 stimulus payments to anyone making less than $80,000 per year and couples making less than $160,000.

Democrats are hoping for Senate approval on the bill before next week, which would then send the bill with amendments back to the House before going to President Joe Biden’s desk.