House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted Monday to extend an “emergency” rule that allows lawmakers to vote from home rather than at the Capitol in Washington as they were elected to do.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told The Federalist that Pelosi unilaterally extended her “show-up-if-convenient” policy under the “guise” of a health emergency. He said the rule has “nothing to do with science” but is only part of Pelosi’s “insatiable obsession with control.”
House Democrats first passed the rule in May 2020 in the early days of the pandemic. The rule marked the first time in House history that members were allowed to vote while not actually present in the House chamber. Republicans objected and filed a court challenge that was used by Democrats to engage in self-promotion and electioneering.
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) wrote a letter to the House clerk claiming his right to vote by proxy shortly after the rule was put into place. He said in his letter that he was “unable to physically attend” House proceedings because of the health emergency. The same day, Crist attended a SpaceX launch in Florida with Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) who also voted by proxy.
Two months ago, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) used the voting by proxy rule while he conducted an online interview about his newly released book from his car in the Capitol parking facility.
Other Democrats used the proxy rule to vote while attending protests in Minneapolis regarding the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for murder in the death of George Floyd.
Pelosi’s extension of the rule will run through May 14, when she will be able to extend it for another 45 days. The original rule provides that proxy voting may be authorized for 45-day periods if the Capitol physician and the House sergeant-at-arms certify that the COVID-19 health emergency persists.
The Capitol physician removed the mask mandate for the Capitol grounds in February just before Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address.
McCarthy has repeatedly promised to eliminate the proxy voting rule if Republicans retake the House majority in this year’s midterm elections. He said that it is insulting to Americans who never stopped working through the pandemic for House Democrats to grant themselves a “permanent pass to stay home” while still drawing a paycheck.