Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor

Source: The Hill | March 4, 2021 | Jordain Carney

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is forcing Senate floor staff to read the entire Democratic coronavirus relief bill, a maneuver that could take up to 10 hours and will delay a final vote on the legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) formally offered the 628-page Senate bill on Thursday after an initial vote to take up House-passed legislation, which is being used as a vehicle for the chamber’s debate. 

Typically, the Senate waives the full reading of bills or amendments. But Johnson had vowed to force Senate floor staff to read the bill, arguing it would give senators time to craft amendments and for Americans to learn the details of the legislation. 

“By the way I feel bad for the clerks. … So, so often we rush these massive bills that are hundreds, if not thousands, of pages long. You don’t have time. Nobody has time to read them,” Johnson said on Thursday.

Senators estimate it will take anywhere between five and 10 hours for the Senate floor staff to read through the legislation. Johnson was sitting on the floor as the Senate staff started their reading on Thursday afternoon and a GOP senator will need to remain on the floor throughout the reading. 

After Johnson objected, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the chairman of the Budget Committee, was overheard joking “I want to stay to hear the reading. I may have missed something.”

Sanders, who subsequently left the chamber, added, “Good thing we have time during a national emergency to do this.” 

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