Skip to main content

Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

Share
Politics

Remote, proxy voting in Congress is coming to an end

Dec 27, 2022

Share

Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

Share

Remote voting and remote committee hearings in the House of Representatives appear to be coming to an end when the 117th Congress closes on Jan. 3. The practice has never been allowed before, but an exception was made through a House resolution to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., enacted the first “covered period” for remote work on May 20, 2020. It was put in place for 45 days but has since been extended 20 times, most recently on Dec. 23. 

It is used extensively, dozens of members voted by proxy on the government spending package that was approved a few days before Christmas.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is running for House speaker and has vowed to end proxy voting if elected. He has spoken out against remote voting from the very beginning and is one of the few members of Congress who has never done it.

“How do your constituents hold you accountable when you give that power to somebody else,” McCarthy said at a press conference the day before proxy voting began.

“I am not in the majority. If I was in the majority we would be back working. You know you can go two blocks over here and get a Starbucks and Congress is still closed. Not the Senate but Congress,” McCarthy said.

For the last two and a half years, members of both parties have been allowed to stay at home while another member casts their vote on bills for them. One representative is allowed to be the proxy for up to 10 other members at a time. They have also been allowed to participate in committee hearings via videoconference. Some even went so far as to ask questions while driving in the car or sitting on a plane.

Democrats contend it has been helpful to the many members who are older or immunocompromised, allowing them to participate without putting themselves at risk. But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have taken advantage of the policy to attend events, or skip for other non-health related reasons. 

Tags: , , , ,

According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of Congress is: the action of coming together. But Since May 2020, members of this Congress have not had to do that. 

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have been allowed to both vote, and participate in committee hearings remotely. That’s never happened before.

It started May 20, 2020 and was put in place for 45 days to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. But because the public health emergency is still ongoing, it’s been extended by House Speaker 

Nancy Pelosi 20 times, most recently on December 23rd. 

But it will officially end January 3rd with the close of the 117th Congress. For the last two years, members could be seen reading lists of votes off their phones. 

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-NJ: “Mr. Speaker as the member designated by… long list… I inform the house that these members will vote yes on HRes 1531.” 

Representatives would also participate in committee hearings from their home, an office, or, and this happened on multiple occasions, while driving in their car. 

Rep. Austin Scott, R-GA: “One of the generals suggested that they were seeing it in their ranks too.” 

Technically, the House could vote to re-approve the resolution, but Republicans are taking a majority, and they have spoken out against remote voting from the beginning. 

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif: “Well I am not in the majority. If I was in the majority we would be back working. You know you can go two blocks over here and get a Starbucks and Congress is still closed. Not the Senate but Congress.” 

Despite disapproving publicly, members of both parties have taken advantage of voting in private. Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.