‘A terrible message’: House Republicans file lawsuit to stop proxy voting

Citing concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing a plan that will allow legislators to vote by proxy.

Republican members, however, are not on board with the proposal — and they’re willing to go to court in an effort to stop it, as the Washington Examiner reports.

“Just simply not allowed”

Congressional aides speaking for GOP leaders in the chamber argued that turning over a vote “to another person is just simply not allowed and not envisioned in the Constitution,” the Examiner noted.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is named as a defendant in the case, as are House Clerk Cheryl Johnson and Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving.

According to ABC News, the House passed the resolution permitting members to cast votes remotely on May 15, marking the first such provision in the institution’s history.

That proposal was approved on a vote of 217 to 189 and came down largely along party lines. Three Democrats sided with Republicans in opposing the move, as did Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), a former Republican.

“In order for a Member to designate another Member as a proxy for purposes of section 1, the Member shall submit to the Clerk a signed letter (which may be in electronic form) specifying by name the Member who is designated for such purposes,” the rule states.

“What modern technology has empowered us to do”

In addition to laying out the procedures for revoking a proxy vote, the resolution limits the number of members any individual can designate as a proxy to 10.

According to ABC, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) has issued a statement denouncing the measure, asserting that Democrats are sending “a terrible message” by permitting remote voting.

“Democrats are going to implement a process during a pandemic that’s going to send a message to the American people, that our first responders, our nurses, our grocery store clerks, that they’re essential,” he said. “But the House of Representatives, it’s not essential for them to actually come to the job.”

House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), however, defended the change as “simply using what modern technology has empowered us to do, to carry out our jobs.”

The coronavirus has disrupted almost every facet of society, and Congress is no exception. It now remains to be seen whether lawmakers will be able to work remotely for the duration of this crisis as so many other Americans have been over the past several months.

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