Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has extended remote voting through Dec. 25.
Citing “a public health emergency is in effect due to a novel coronavirus,” Pelosi announced members of the United State House of Representatives can continue casting votes on proposed bills by proxy through the end of the year.
The policy allows representatives to designate proxies to “cast votes on behalf of other Members once they have received separate exact instruction with respect to each vote,” according to the Clerk of the House.
Since the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2021, Pelosi has extended remote voting several times – most recently in late September days after President Joe Biden said “the pandemic is over” in an interview.
In her Nov. 10 announcement, Pelosi said her decision was made “in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician” and “in light of” notification from the Sergeant-at-Arms.
The Nov. 9 notification from Sergeant-at-Arms William J. Walker states that “the public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 remains in effect.” No additional information about the state of the pandemic is included in the message.
Prominent Republicans opposed Pelosi’s extension.
Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher said “everyone but Speaker Pelosi agrees” the pandemic has ended.
“By extending proxy voting, Speaker Pelosi continues to allow members to forgo the most important component of their job – voting – and lie to their constituents in the process,” Gallagher said in a statement on Twitter on Sept. 23. “The day when Republicans take back the House and eliminate this unconstitutional and unethical practice can’t come soon enough.”
Top Republicans have also said proxy voting caused significant delays, impaired timely debates, and impacted the quality of legislation, per The Washington Examiner.
Texas Representative Chip Roy has repeatedly urged Congress to end proxy voting.
“We have an obligation to defend the Constitution. It is my perspective that it is, in fact, unconstitutional for us to engage in proxy voting,” Roy said in a speech in March of 2022. “I think that the Constitution is pretty clear on it. I think if you read the text of the Constitution, words like ‘meeting,’ ‘assemble,’ ‘attendance,’ ‘present,’ ‘absent,’ ‘recess,’ ‘sitting,’ ‘seat’ — it clearly requires Members of Congress to be actually present in the House or the Senate chamber.”
“I understand technology has changed, well, then let’s amend the Constitution,” he added. “Let’s have a debate about it.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — who is running to be the next House Speaker following the midterm elections – has vowed to end proxy voting.
“I am determined to ensure that this majority reaches its full potential,” he said in a letter announcing his bid for Speaker. “That … means restoring the Congress to its proper role as the primary lawmaking authority in the United States as prescribed by Article I of the Constitution. We will immediately reopen the Capitol and end the Democrat proxy voting and remote work schemes that have inflicted untold damage to this institution.”
The United State Senate has not permitted proxy voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.