As concerns over COVID-19 continued to mount across the country last year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) moved to allow members of Congress’ lower chamber to cast their votes via proxy. Under these adapted rules, House members were able to designate another lawmaker who would vote on their behalf on the House floor.
Those arrangements were reportedly set to come to an end on Aug. 18, when the House would revert back to its normal procedures, requiring members to be present to vote on legislation. But according to the Washington Examiner, Pelosi just moved to extend the adapted rules, now allowing representatives to vote by proxy until at least Oct. 1.
Proxy voting gets the green light
According to the Examiner, Pelosi’s rule allows those who are “physically unable to attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency” to skip out on their jobs and vote by proxy. But while some may feel it’s a smart move amid a global pandemic, Republicans just aren’t buying it.
In fact, as The Hill notes, several members of Congress had filed a lawsuit seeking to put an end to the practice of proxy voting.
The court ended up ruling not on the merits of the case, but rather on a technicality, saying it had no jurisdiction over House rules.
The controversy stems in part from allegations from Republicans that many members of Congress have been abusing proxy voting, using it as an excuse not to show up to work.
Whatever the case may be, proxy voting will now continue thanks to Pelosi’s latest action.
COVID concerns continue
According to the Examiner, the extension on proxy voting comes after Congress’ attending physician indicated in a recent memo that “a public health emergency remains in effect.”
The notification comes as concerns are rising across the country over the delta variant of the coronavirus, and as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend that Americans — even those who are vaccinated — go back to wearing masks to curb the spread of the disease.
Alongside the CDC’s guidance, Pelosi recently reimposed an order requiring House members to wear masks at all times while on Capitol grounds. She’s threatened lawmakers who fail to comply with fines, and staffers and visitors could even face arrest for flouting the mask mandate.
Republicans, unsurprisingly, responded to the renewed mask mandate with heavy criticism, including protests. But Pelosi hasn’t budged.
It remains unclear how long she’ll keep up this schtick of changing the rules to suit Democrats’ narratives on the pandemic. But you can certainly bet this issue won’t go away before the 2022 midterms.