[Rushtalk] Pelosi sidelines plan for proxy voting amid coronavirus, after GOP backlash

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Wed May 27 14:30:30 MDT 2020

Pelosi sidelines plan for proxy voting amid coronavirus, after GOP
Marisa Schultz
By Marisa Schultz, Chad Pergram | Fox News 

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has temporarily sidelined a push to allow
proxy voting in the House after Republicans slammed the
Democrat-crafted plan -- which was designed to mitigate health
risks during the coronavirus pandemic but would mark a significant
change in how Congress does business.

The plan had been slated for a vote Thursday.

But Pelosi announced she pulled the plug on a leadership call Wednesday,
saying that she and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy,
R-Calif., would instead set up a group of bipartisan lawmakers to study
remote voting and proxy voting as part of a way to reopen the House.

The change of plans happened after House Minority Whip Steve Scalise
advised GOP members to vote "no" on the proposal they've dubbed the
"Pelosi Proxy Voting Scheme" in the previously scheduled Thursday vote.


The House will now consider a resolution to create a previously proposed
select committee to probe the coronavirus response, instead of the proxy
voting plan.

The new bipartisan group tasked with reopening the House and reviewing
remote voting will include House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer,
D-Md.; McCarthy; House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern,
D-Mass.; the top Republican on the Rules Committee Rep. Tom Cole,
R-Okla.; House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren,
D-Calif.; and the top Republican on that panel, Rep. Rodney Davis,

The House will still move forward with a bipartisan vote Thursday on
reviving the Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of money to help
small businesses hard hit by coronavirus shutdowns. Republicans support
this $484 billion plan to replenish the small business forgivable loan
program and provide money for hospitals and COVID-19 testing.

But a sticking point emerged on the proxy voting plan to allow members
who can't travel to Washington to vote for pandemic-related reasons to
direct another member to vote on their behalf.

Republicans have accused Pelosi of trying to undo 200 years of precedent
without thoughtful input from the GOP.

"Any changes of this magnitude must be done in a thoughtful, bipartisan
manner through regular order and with input from all members of the
House," Scalise's office sent out in whip notice to member offices.

"Instead, the Speaker is choosing to capitalize on the crisis and jam
through a rules change that could have serious constitutional and
institutional repercussions." 

McGovern, the chairman of the House Rules Committee, released the text
of a resolution Wednesday morning that would allow the House of
Representatives to conduct proxy voting as a way to continue its
business during the coronavirus pandemic while minimizing the number of
members who need to physically be in Washington, D.C.

The resolution, the newest step in a controversial fight over whether
and how Congress should allow its members to vote on legislation while
not present in the nation's capital, would indeed represent a break in
the longstanding practice requiring that members of Congress cast their
votes in person.

"The report I released last month examined our voting options, and while
every option presented unique advantages and disadvantages – including
technological and security concerns – the report concluded that '[t]here
is currently no perfect solution to allow absent Members to vote on the
floor. However, proxy voting is likely the best of the options available
under the circumstances,'" McGovern said in a letter to Democratic
colleagues Wednesday morning.

Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, blasted
the "secret" effort earlier Wednesday for leaving the GOP out of the

"There are other measures already in place to ensure Congress can carry
on without enabling Members of Congress to email-away their right to
vote," Davis said. "Following the terrible events of September 11th,
there was an exhaustive effort to ensure House Rules would allow the
House to continue to function during catastrophic times, an effort that
took three years to achieve.

"Many options were considered, including proxy and remote voting, but
the option that was determined best for the institution is to reduce the
number of in-person Members required to satisfy a quorum - something we
could be using now," Davis continued. "This proposal that we received
today is not a serious bipartisan effort to keep Members of Congress
safe during this pandemic, but instead an attempt to take advantage of
the House when it is vulnerable."

It's unclear when a new remote voting plan might come to a vote, but the
effort underway is designed to be bipartisan.

Fox News' Tyler Olson contributed to this report. 


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