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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called out Republicans for their “dangerous obstruction” of an attempt to allow lawmakers to vote remotely for their colleagues.
The California Democrat slammed a lawsuit by GOP House members on Tuesday that sought to block the proxy voting, calling it a “sad stunt” and claiming the ability of one U.S. Representative to vote remotely on the House floor for colleagues is allowed by the Constitution.
“House Republicans’ sad stunt shows that their only focus is to delay and obstruct urgently-needed action to meet the needs of American workers and families during the coronavirus crisis,” Pelosi said in a statement released Tuesday.
“The House made its will clear two weeks ago when it voted to implement remote voting by proxy and other necessary measures to ensure that Congress can continue to protect lives and livelihoods,” she added, linking the need to vote with passing additional relief legislation amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The House’s position that remote voting by proxy during a pandemic is fully consistent with the Constitution is supported by expert legal analyses,” Pelosi said. “Further, the Supreme Court made clear over a century ago that the Constitution empowers each chamber of Congress to set its own procedural rules.”
🚨 BREAKING NEWS 🚨
House Republicans are suing Nancy Pelosi to block her proxy voting power grab that lets her unilaterally pass legislation with just 20 Members present.
It’s simple: one representative should equal one vote.
We can’t let her get away with this.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) May 26, 2020
With the House set to hold the first remote voting on Wednesday, Pelosi called on GOP lawmakers to get on board with the plan.
“As our nation approaches the heartbreaking milestone of 100,000 lives lost to COVID-19, House Republicans must stop their dangerous obstruction and join Democrats to save lives, defeat the virus and grow the economy,” she said.
But Republicans attempted to block the unprecedented rule change, which was pushed through the chamber along party lines earlier this month, filing a lawsuit on Tuesday to prevent the move that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy slammed as an “unconstitutional proxy voting scheme.”
“It could allow as few as 20 Representatives to control the votes of 220. This is NOT the representative democracy our Founders envisioned or what our Constitution allows,” the California Republican tweeted.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan slammed the “lawless voting scheme” as unconstitutional in a tweet on Tuesday.
Proxy voting is unconstitutional. Period.
Let’s face it. You gotta show up for work.
Speaker Pelosi’s lawless voting scheme has no place in Congress. https://t.co/eC72waYnsh
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) May 27, 2020
“It is a brazen violation of the Constitution, a dereliction of our duty as elected officials, and would silence the American people’s voice during a crisis,” McCarthy said in a statement announcing the lawsuit which was filed in court in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. and argued that voting rules have not been changed even through the Civil War and the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as well as during past epidemics like Yellow Fever in 1793, and influenza in 1918.
“Although I wish this matter could have been solved on a bipartisan basis, the stakes are too high to let this injustice go unaddressed,” McCarthy said.
“This is not simply arcane parliamentary procedure. It is a brazen violation of the Constitution, a dereliction of our duty as elected officials, and would silence the American people’s voice during a crisis,” he said in the statement, noting that nearly 60 Democrats are planning to vote remotely, citing fears of coronavirus for not traveling to the Capitol and allowing a colleague to cast their vote.
Minority Leader Steny Hoyer defended the designated-voter plan on a press call on Tuesday,
“We believe proxy voting is not only consistent with the Constitution but consistent with the responsibility a member has to express the views of their constituents, whether or not they can get to Washington, D.C.,” the Maryland Democrat said, according to The Hill.
Republicans contend the rules change is not only unconstitutional, but places a dangerous amount of power in the hands of a few.
To meet as a Congress includes the act of meeting in congress: together, as a group, & in-person. We have already proven we can safely meet during this pandemic. Vesting majority power in as few as 20 members is absurd and would astound the founders of our republic. https://t.co/WJTFpsDCXp
— Congressman Fred Keller (@RepFredKeller) May 26, 2020
“We have been working on this litigation challenge since the House Democrats clarified that they intended to actually change over 200 years of Representative Republic House procedure and greatly reduce Congress’ accountability to the American people,” Rep. Clay Higgins said in a statement.
“Congress is mandated to meet and conduct the People’s business in person. This was the clear intent of our Founders. No American has ever voted for Congressional representation by a plastic digital card. We vote for human beings. We expect to be represented by human beings,” the Louisiana Republican added. “We will ultimately prevail in our determined effort to block the Democrats proxy voting plan and their overall strategy to dehumanize America.”
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