House Republicans are celebrating the end of proxy voting rules ushered in by Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) nearly three years ago at the start of the COVID pandemic.
The reform symbolizes what Republicans are calling a return to more regular, democratic governance after years of draconian overreach by Pelosi.
While members of both parties took advantage of proxy voting, Republicans, led by now-Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Ca.), bristled at the practice as an unconstitutional departure from what the nation's founders envisioned.
McCarthy vowed to end it as soon as Republicans took back power, and on Monday, Republicans finally got their wish with the approval of a new rules package along partisan lines.
Newly elected Republican Kevin Kiley (Ca.) quipped that some members are "upset they can no longer vote from the golf course," while Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said the method was "frequently abused by members to attend fund raisers, campaign, go on vacation, and avoid traveling for work."
The new rules include concessions that a group of conservatives demanded in return for supporting McCarthy, including the restoration of a rule requiring only one vote for a motion to remove the Speaker. Pelosi had changed the rules so that a majority of either party was needed.
The rules will "reopen Congress to We the People," McCarthy said.
→ Empower members to debate
→ Increase transparency
→ Reopen Congress to We the People
Are replacing rules that:
→ Silenced representative's voices
→ Kept deal-making hidden behind closed doors
→ Allowed for unconstitutional proxy voting
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) January 10, 2023
Congress is also being opened up in more literal ways. The metal detectors that Pelosi had installed have finally been removed, two years after Pelosi capitalized on the January 6th "insurrection" to transform the People's House into a fortress.
The new House rules also remove the hefty fines Pelosi imposed on members refusing to cooperate with her mask theater and January 6th-inspired security theater.
Pelosi stopped requiring members to wear masks in the chamber early last year, but she continued to allow members to work from home even as the country started moving on from COVID and restrictions were lifted across society.
Indeed, the House voted mostly by proxy last month on a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill that many came to see as a symbol of Washington corruption.
While proxy voting is over, Democrats have continued to play politics with the pandemic while sending mixed messages on its urgency.
President Biden extended the state of emergency once again on Wednesday through April, despite declaring the pandemic "over" last year ahead of the midterm elections.