Republican Reps. Chip Roy of Texas and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin called out fellow members of Congress who use proxy voting to attend events while claiming to be afraid of catching COVID-19.
First introduced in May 2020, proxy voting allows representatives to designate a colleague to cast votes for them. House Republicans led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Roy filed a lawsuit against the practice, which members of both parties often use, but the Supreme Court ruled against them in January. McCarthy has promised to eliminate the practice if Republicans take back the House of Representatives. (RELATED: After Record-Breaking McCarthy Speech, 78 House Members Decide Not To Show Up For Build Back Better Vote)
Roy continued his argument that the scheme is unconstitutional during a House Rules Committee hearing Thursday.
“We all have an obligation to carefully examine the merits of the constitutional question raised by proxy voting. It is a legitimate constitutional question. We haven’t had any hearings on it,” Roy said. “It is my perspective that it is in fact unconstitutional for us to engage in proxy voting. I think the Constitution is pretty clear on it. If you read the text of the Constitution, words like ‘meeting,’ ‘assemble,’ ‘attendance,’ ‘absence,’ ‘recess,’ ‘sitting,’ ‘seat.’ It clearly requires members of Congress to be physically present in the House or Senate chamber.”
In order for members to designate a proxy, they must sign a form declaring that they are “unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency.”
However, Gallagher noted, “we’ve all heard the anecdotes of people going to fundraisers, Democrats and Republicans by the way. I’m not saying only the other side has abused this.”
“The overwhelming majority of members proxy voting are lying when they sign this piece of paper,” he said. “Let me prove this to you mathematically why this is a massive lie. The average number of proxy votes on a normal day of Congress, a full day like today, is about 68 if you crunch the numbers. Magically, on fly-in and fly-out days, those numbers skyrocket to around 100. So what happened? Are people getting COVID-19 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, but not Wednesdays?”
“It’s about birthdays, it’s about graduation parties, it’s about the birth of children, it’s about climate change, it’s about strokes,” Gallagher continued. “Stop lying.”
“We just kind of countenance it and say, ‘oh, go to a fundraiser, good for you,'” Roy added. “One story was someone was out in an interview in a car in the parking lot while someone was proxy voting for them in here.”