(RightWing.org) – The US House of Representatives passed a plan Friday that will radically change the way the legislature works through the rest of the coronavirus crisis. In a vote split strongly along party lines, Democrats rammed through a bill to allow proxy voting to preserve social distancing. Republicans are wary, though. They say the move will set a bad example and disconnect the government from the American people.
House Republicans have been fighting to keep Congress at work through the Chinese virus crisis. In late April, they successfully blocked an attempt by Democrats to relax the rules and allow proxy voting. Now they’ve been defeated in a partisan vote.
- A 217-189 vote on Friday evening brought in a series of changes to how the House of Representatives will do business during the coronavirus crisis. This will throw aside rules that have been in place for as long as the US government has existed.
- The new rules, pushed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), will allow representatives to cast votes by proxy. Members are given at least a day’s advance warning of the final vote on any House bill, so if they don’t plan to be present, they should be able to find a proxy to vote for them.
- Representatives who plan to vote by proxy will have to submit a letter to the clerk of the house, which again, they’ll have time to do.
- Each representative who actually attends the vote will be able to cast up to ten proxy votes as well. The new measures say they’re not allowed to change proxy votes; they must vote as instructed by the absent member. However, there are sure to be concerns on how well they can actually police this.
- As well as proxy voting, the vote allows committees to work remotely by telephone or video conferencing. This measure is supposed to stay in place for 45 days. However, like the rest of the package, it could potentially be extended to January, when this congressional term ends.
- GOP members are outraged at the move. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) says legislators shouldn’t be paid if they want to stay at home. He added, “a virtual Congress would be a Congress that is connected to the Internet, but disconnected from the American people.”
- Dems argue that people who work on the Hill have gotten sick with COVID-19 and the new measures are necessary to protect lawmakers. It’s unclear how well that will go down with cops, nurses, and retail workers who’ve been putting their lives on the line every day since this epidemic started. Could just be they’re made of sterner stuff than Democrats in Congress.
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