House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is intending to change the rule for how members in the House of Representatives are able to vote under the ongoing coronavirus-related lockdown order.
No longer will a member be required to be in the chamber to vote—a tradition spanning 231 years—as Pelosi will allow remote.
“The House is expected to approve a measure on Friday to allow lawmakers to vote by proxy during the coronavirus pandemic, a significant policy shift that will allow members to cast floor votes remotely for the first time in the chamber’s 231-year history,” ABC News reports.
The report adds:
The vote, which will come the same day as the chamber considers a $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, follows weeks of debate on Capitol Hill over how to best adapt the famously close-quarters, back-slapping work environment to the virus outbreak that has killed 86,000 Americans.
Experts considered the proposal the most significant adjustment to House floor policy since the 1970s, when the chamber began voting electronically and C-SPAN started broadcasting debates.
Brookings Institute senior fellow Sarah Binder described the rule change to ABC News as “a pretty big step, certainly for Congress.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer agreed but said the change would allow members to continue helping the American people while exhibiting lockdown orders.
Under the new proposal, members can designate colleagues to vote on their behalf, after notifying the chamber and giving exact written instructions to their designee. Members can serve as proxies for up to 10 lawmakers under the terms of the rule, which requires renewal every 45 days and will expire at the end of this session of Congress.
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The new rule also authorizes committees to hold virtual hearings on a set of approved software platforms to prepare legislation for the House floor and depose witnesses. The Senate, which already allows proxy votes in committee hearings, has already held a number of partially virtual hearings featuring testimony from administration officials.
Pelosi also accidentally told the American public that her job (and that of her fellow Democrats) is nonessential as she is looking to keep the House of Representatives in recess until July 21.
Via the Washington Examiner:
The measure includes a provision “that allows the House to remain in recess until July 21,” a Republican leadership aide said.
The language is included in a resolution dictating the rules of debate. It allows Democrats “to declare the House adjourned to meet at a date and time to be announced by the Chair in declaring the adjournment,” from May 19 until July 21.
A top Democratic aide said the provision was needed to block lawmakers (likely Republicans, who oppose the recess) from calling up votes during the pro forma sessions held every three days.
The Constitution is not suspended during a crisis.
Yet Nancy Pelosi's House Dems are trying to do just that by changing the rules to let Congress phone in the work of the people.
Health care workers, farmers, truckers, and grocers are showing up for work. So should Congress. pic.twitter.com/GoPnqy7xaQ
— Oversight Committee Republicans (@GOPoversight) May 15, 2020