House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced Friday morning that she will extend the timeline for proxy voting into May, a move that will allow lawmakers to continue voting for legislation without actually physically showing up to the Capitol building.
Pelosi decided to extend the proxy-voting rule, which drew backlash and a lawsuit from some House Republicans when it was originally announced last year, after she received formal notification that a public health emergency “remains in effect” due to COVID-19.
“In light of the attached notification by the Acting Sergeant-At-Arms, in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician, that a public health emergency is in effect due to a novel coronavirus, I am hereby extending the ‘covered period’ designated on January 4, 2021, pursuant to section 3(s) of House Resolution 8, until May 19, 2021,” said Pelosi in a statement.
Several weeks ago, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) formally asked Pelosi in a letter when the proxy-voting period would end, arguing that the American people deserve to know when Congress will assemble as normal again.
“Nearly a year ago to the day, you made the decision to close the Capitol to visitors and begin implementing new protocols to govern access and movement of the members and staff of the Capitol complex,” said McCarthy, one of the lawmakers who filed the ultimately unsuccessful 2020 lawsuit against Pelosi that called the House’s proxy-voting rule unconstitutional. “But since that time, we have learned more about the virus and have made monumental strides in our scientific and technological endeavors.”
McCarthy also said 75% of House lawmakers have been fully vaccinated, a figure his congressional aides said came from the attending physician’s office, reports The Washington Post. “Simply put: it’s time we return to regular order,” said McCarthy.
A simple question for Speaker Pelosi: What is your plan to reopen the People’s House?
I just sent her this letter because the American people deserve answers. pic.twitter.com/H2sfUywbRz
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) March 10, 2021
Although the House proxy-voting rule was spearheaded by Democrats, recently, Republican lawmakers have been using it as well, much to the dismay of other Republicans who see it as damaging and want to see it promptly scrapped. “Democrats in particular are destroying the institution by doing this — we don’t meet, we don’t debate, we don’t amend. But even a number of my GOP colleagues are now complicit and have given in to the Democrats recklessness,” remarked Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) in early March, according to The Washington Examiner.
“Proxy voting is destroying Congress,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI). “This idea that members of Congress can allow someone else to vote for them. They sign a paper saying due to the pandemic or the health emergency, ‘I am unable to vote in-person, but we know that they’re then going to other events — we had a bunch of Republicans go to CPAC on Friday, Democrats have been abusing this, the numbers go up on fly-out days — it totally undermines any legitimate need for proxy voting.”
“Proxy voting is exacerbating what was already the fundamental problem with Congress, which is that members spend all of their time raising money for re-election, raising their social media profile, as oppose to being there, in-person, doing the unglamorous job of legislating, conducting oversight of the executive branch, establishing relationships with your colleagues so as to legislate and conduct oversight effectively,” said Gallagher.
Proxy voting is destroying Congress. pic.twitter.com/7VOHc559NQ
— Rep. Mike Gallagher (@RepGallagher) March 1, 2021
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