Vote-by-text? Is that really how our representatives are going to be conducting business from now on? It seems so, if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has her way. She insisted on proxy voting during the coronavirus pandemic because she said it would be too dangerous for members to travel to Washington. She extended it three times since its first implementation, the third extension ending this Friday. Proxy voting allows a House member in the Capitol to vote on behalf of as many as 10 colleagues. Now a new letter from Democratic Chairperson Zoe Lofgren would "pave the way" for another expansion of proxy voting, the GOP worries.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL), and House Rules Committee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) released a warning on Wednesday about the Democrats' new "proxy voting scheme," as well as a glimpse into a few other rules changes they're mulling over.
Read the GOP statement below:
“Speaker Pelosi is once again attempting to consolidate power in the House of Representatives while rewarding members of her party for their compliance. Chairperson Lofgren’s letter would pave 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.
“In addition to this yet-to-be unveiled remote voting program, House Democrats 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.
“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.
“Anyone that has served in or covered Congress understands the simplest way to extinguish party tensions is to keep members home and away from Washington. Facing a humbling defeat at the ballot box, Speaker Pelosi is now desperate to do no further harm to her political power.
“For the past week, all House Democrats can seem to talk about is themselves. Meanwhile, millions of Americans continue to hurt from the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus. Rather than chart a path forward to help the American people, House Democrats have spent their time devising ways to rig the process to prevent blowback against their radical policies, all while they continue to collect a paycheck from the taxpayers.
“This is a disgrace and would forever alter the institution in which we serve for the worse.”
Leader McCarthy was a little more succinct on Twitter.
After facing defeat at the ballot box, Speaker Pelosi is once again attempting to consolidate power in the House of Reps.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) November 12, 2020
She is looking into a ‘vote by text’ operation that would let Congress skip work and continue to collect a paycheck from taxpayers. Unconstitutional!
About that "humbling defeat" the Republican letter mentions. The Democrats were projected to pick up 10 or even 15 seats in last week's House elections. They ended up losing more than a few and Republicans have narrowed the Democrats' majority in the lower chamber. It was, as Politico billed it, an "abject disaster." With each day that passes and the more races that get called it's only getting worse. And rumor has it Pelosi may soon be giving up the gavel. Her party is not thrilled with the results and in some cases the debate over how they lost devolved into literal screaming matches between caucus members.
Time for Pelosi to take the L.