(Right Country) – A recently passed measure in the Democrat-controlled House would allow final votes on bills with just 22 members present on Capitol Hill.
Let that sink in.
How much societal upheaval are we going to allow in the name of stopping the spread of a virus with a 99% survivability rate?
“A virtual Congress would be a Congress that is connected to the Internet, but disconnected from the American people,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted Sunday. “Democrats are forever altering American democracy for the worse. Unconstitutional power grab!”
McCarthy has been loudly voicing his opposition to such measures, opposing the idea of proxy voting shortly after the House went into recess in March in response to the virus and began searching for alternative methods of voting on bills.
Just hours before the House passed the proxy measure, McCarthy argued on the House floor that the members of Congress are frontline workers, just like doctors, nurses, and police officers.
They’re certainly still receiving paychecks, unlike millions of Americans who currently have no idea how they’ll feed their family.
“The work of our frontline heroes is the definition of essential,” McCarthy said. “It cannot be done remotely or by proxy. Why should Congress be any different?”
He also declared that the bill runs against 230 years of House rules and the Constitution itself by limiting the debate and amendment process for legislation.
The new proxy voting measure passed 217-189 and allows for each member voting in person to submit 10 proxy votes on behalf of other members.
Just The News notes:
In the absence of an electronic remote voting system, members have been practicing social distance while voting on bills with a rotation of small groups in the chamber. Supporters say the new rule, which allows proxy voting during this pandemic and similar emergencies, is needed considering the health risks associated with members traveling to Washington, given that many are 65 or older.
Under the rule, 22 members physically present in the chamber can represent up to 220 votes and 218 yes votes out of 435 are required for a bill to pass. Given that there are currently 430 members in the House due to vacancies, 216 members must vote in favor of a bill for it to pass.
The House Rules Committee each member unable to vote in person must provide “written instruction” to the member who is voting on their behalf.
“Proxies must receive exact written instruction from the member voting by proxy on each vote, and are required to follow that instruction precisely,” a committee spokesperson said.
Rep. Earl Perlmutter of Colorado was one of the first Democrats to vote in favor of the proxy voting.
“We must utilize technology for fully remote voting and eventually work on a permanent change to the House Rules to ensure Congress can continue our important work through future emergencies,” he recently tweeted.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the second-ranking Republican in the House, also criticized the proxy voting rule.
“Now they can turn their voting cards over to Pelosi & sit at home collecting their paychecks while she unilaterally passes legislation with just 20 Members present,” he wrote.