Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her decision to extend the Houses proxy voting system until Aug. 18 because of the ongoing public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Pelosi said Monday her decision was based on the advice from House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving, in consultation with the Office of the Attending Physician, who notified her that the virus continues to be a public health emergency.
“I am hereby extending the covered period designated on May 20, 2020, pursuant to section 1(a) of House Resolution 965, until August 18, 2020,” Pelosi wrote.
The rules change to include proxy voting was first implemented on May 20, initially for 45 days, with the provision that the time for remote voting could be extended if the Speaker feels there are further public health concerns from the pandemic.
Without the recent extension, the 45-day period would end in early July. According to guidelines (pdf) prepared by House majority staff on “Best Practices for Remote Floor Voting,” proxy voting “can be extended or renewed if the public health emergency persists or there is a resurgence.”
The temporary rule allows lawmakers who do not feel comfortable traveling to Washington because of the pandemic to still vote on the House legislation and attend committee meetings remotely.
Republicans have been opposed to the change from the beginning; they have filed bills to hold paychecks of members who do not vote in person. House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) led Republicans in filing a lawsuit that argues that proxy voting is unconstitutional.
“As Americans get back to work, Dems extend their free pass to skip work altogether while a few Members vote multiple times for districts they dont even represent,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).
GOP lawmakers have said public officials are essential workers and need to be on-site, just like doctors and firefighters.
McCarthy said, “Our work on behalf of the American people is the definition of essential work—now more than ever.”
“Democrats shadow voting is patently unconstitutional. So far, 70 Democrats have failed to show up for work, yet they are still collecting a paycheck from taxpayers. I just sent this letter to Speaker Pelosi calling for it to end—fittingly— on Independence Day,” added McCarthy.
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