Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation this month allowing lawmakers to vote by proxy in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Republicans, however, were not on board and overwhelmingly voted against the measure.
Now, the GOP is taking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to court over the provision.
The new rule permits legislators to designate another member of Congress as his or her proxy after submitting a signed letter to the House clerk.
“Repeated and emphatic requirement”
It stipulates that a representative “may not be designated as a proxy under this section for more than 10 Members concurrently.”
Republicans are arguing that those provisions are unconstitutional and have filed a lawsuit seeking to have them declared invalid.
“In the 231-year existence of the United States Congress, neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate has ever permitted to vote by proxy from the floor of the chamber,” the suit states.
The GOP complaint goes on to assert that it “is simply impossible to read the Constitution and overlook its repeated and emphatic requirement that Members of Congress actually assemble in their respective chambers when they vote, whether on matters as weighty as declaring war or as ordinary as naming a bridge.”
Republicans were quick to voice opposition to the measure after Democrats pursued it in the House.
“Going to send a message”
“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,” said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) earlier this month. “But the House of Representatives, it’s not essential for them to actually come to the job.”
For their part, Democrats contend that the move is a basic provision in response to the ongoing pandemic.
“This is simply using what modern technology has empowered us to do, to carry out our jobs,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). “Tens of millions of Americans are doing the same thing. They call it teleworking.”
As this issue plays out in court, it remains to be seen whether remote voting on Capitol Hill will survive the Republican challenge. Regardless of the outcome, though many Trump voters are just hoping lawmakers will get to work advancing the administration’s agenda.