Three key Republican congressional leaders expect Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to seek to expand and make permanent the limited proxy voting system adopted earlier this year in response to the CCP Virus Pandemic.
“Speaker Pelosi is once again attempting to consolidate power in the House of Representatives, while rewarding members of her party for their compliance,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a Nov. 11 statement.
Joining McCarthy on the statement were Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Administration, and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the most senior GOP member of the House Rules Committee.
“By shielding themselves from substantive policy debates and questions from the Capitol Hill press corps, Democrats appear ready to silence the voices of millions of Americans and overturn centuries of House precedent just to protect their own political futures,” the three Republicans continued.
This is a disgrace and would forever alter the institution in which we serve for the worse,” they said.
Republicans oppose proxy voting because the Constitution requires senators and representatives to be present to vote, as they have done since the founding document’s official adoption in March 1789.
The GOP trio’s statement was prompted by a Nov. 10 letter to Pelosi from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the administration panel’s chairman.
Lofgren told Pelosi that “following consultation with the Ranking Minority Member, I write to notify you that that operable and secure technology exists to conduct remote voting in the House of Representatives.”
On Nov. 11, Lofgren made public a report by the Democratic staff of her committee that concluded “operable and secure technology exists that would permit the House to conduct remote voting, and that such a tool could be developed to further establish the House’s flexibility and resiliency to operate during the pandemic.”
The report said it found multiple commercial vendors of software systems that would enable the House to conduct official business, including voting on the floor and in hearings remotely.
In addition, the report said “the [Government Accountability] Office (GAO) … continues to review this topic, it has identified a number of private vendors with existing products currently available in the commercial marketplace.
“Without addressing the specific merits or features of individual products, the range of products available today further supports the general conclusion that remote voting is technologically feasible.”
Under the limited proxy voting system that was adopted over Republican opposition in May, the report said the House has since held:
- 151 entirely remote hearings.
- 117 hybrid hearings.
- Four entirely remote bill markup sessions.
- 26 hybrid markups.
- Scores of remote or hybrid briefings, forums, meetings, and roundtables.
McCarthy, Davis and Cole warned that Pelosi and Lofgren are paving “the way for an expansion of the current proxy voting scheme into a fully-remote ‘vote by text’ operation that is unproven, unsecure, and unconstitutional.”
Davis said in a separate Nov. 11 letter to House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) that, contrary to Lofgren’s claim to Pelosi, he was not consulted regarding the technical feasibility of proxy voting.
“While I’ve been willing to provide insight and engage on this issue, I want to make it clear that the majority did not consult me on this decision, but merely informed,” Davis told McGovern.
“I understand [Lofgren] is only looking at what is technically feasible … but there are greater issues at stake here. During the only hearing our committee held on this issue, it was noted that remote voting would fundamentally change this institution, consolidate the power of the Speaker, and weaken the House.
“Furthermore, one hearing is not adequate for doing industry research, gathering detailed requirements, and working with the institutional support entities that would manage a remote voting system. To the best of my knowledge, very little, if any, of that has been done.”
Davis questioned whether sufficient study has been done on critical issues prompted by proposals to move to proxy voting, including “how will members authenticate themselves or how will we have a system that supports members will little or no connectivity at their homes … Remote voting is not something you simply flip a switch and start doing.”
McCarthy, Davis and Cole also claimed that Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and other Democratic leaders in the lower chamber of Congress “are reportedly considering additional rules changes to insulate themselves from criticism, such as eliminating or neutering the motion to recommit, the minority party’s last opportunity to amend legislation.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc