Republican Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney had harsh words for the proxy-voting plan the House passed late Friday evening.
That plan would allow any House member who was physically present to cast a proxy vote for up to 10 others. It would also allow House members and witnesses to join committee proceedings from home for 45 days. Those provisions are set to expire at the end of the term in January, but can be modified until then as necessary.
Cheney joined a number of other Republicans in criticizing the move, which passed largely along party lines, sending out a press release titled, “House Democrats’ Proxy Voting Scheme Is an Unconstitutional Abuse of Power.” (RELATED: ‘But You Got A Cool Pen’: Liz Cheney Mocks Impeachment Manager Jason Crow After CNN Appearance)
“House Democrats are risking damage to our constitutional republic by adopting a proxy voting scheme along partisan lines. Our founders intended that Congress convene and deliberate. The Constitution requires a majority of members be present to constitute a quorum to conduct business,” Cheney explained. “In times of national emergency, changes in House operations may be necessary, but those changes should never be the subject of heavy-handed partisan maneuvering in blatant disregard of constitutional imperative, precedent and the rights of the minority.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also objected to proxy voting, saying, “Our Founders would be ashamed that we aren’t assembling. A virtual Congress would be a Congress that is connected to the Internet, but disconnected from the American people.”
I want every American to understand what Nancy Pelosi’s “proxy voting” scheme means:
→ Democrats can stay home for the rest of the year, but still get paid.
→ Democrats can hand their power over to someone else—Pelosi—so she can vote multiple times.https://t.co/6DJReS7Nf6
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) May 15, 2020
McCarthy had previously criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not calling the House back to normal sessions, arguing that if the Starbucks down the street was open for business, Congress should be as well.
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) May 7, 2020
Democrats have defended the move because it protects the more vulnerable members — such as Democratic Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who was recently diagnosed with cancer — and allows them to continued to work from home while the risk is increased.
Democratic Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen also noted that Washington, D.C., was still under a stay-at-home order. “You are not supposed to meet in groups of more than 10 people. We are more than 10. … We are just protecting our members and protecting their loved ones and protecting their constituents,” Cohen added. “This is a good law. It gives people a chance to vote.”
Majority Whip Steny Hoyer called the change more necessary than radical, arguing that the House was simply adapting to “the use of technology to accommodate the crisis we confront.”
.@LeaderHoyer: “When C-SPAN was introduced, oh my, how radically that would change the House. I reject, I say again, that this is any kind of radical change. What it is is the use of technology to accommodate the crisis we confront.” pic.twitter.com/ktWNrRyl7m
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 15, 2020