The House of Representatives on Friday passed a historic piece of legislation, allowing members to vote by proxy and conduct hearings remotely for the next 45 days because of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. Under the new rules, which passed mostly along party lines, congressmen and women can give written instructions to another member in the chamber to vote on their behalf. One representative can serve as a proxy voter for up to 10 other members at any given time. Those who choose to work remotely can still participate in open hearings and cast committee votes. Closed hearings, however, will still be held in-person on Capitol Hill.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) sounded the alarm on the rules change during a "Hannity" special on Fox News Friday night. According to Scalise, not only is the move unconstitutional, but it puts members who represent swing districts in a bind.
“You know, the thing is it gives Nancy Pelosi power, but imagine being a Democrat who goes back home in a swing district. You just voted to give your voting card in Congress to Nancy Pelosi, and she doesn't represent the values of a lot of those districts. You know, you now signed on for San Francisco values, and by the way, what are you doing now? Why are you collecting a paycheck if you want Nancy Pelosi to be the one to vote for you and represent your district, and you're representing a swing state somewhere else? And so, this could be a tough vote for those people to explain," Scalise explained. "It's unconstitutional, first of all, because a quorum under this resolution they just passed – 20 people on the floor – 20 Democrats can constitute a quorum of the House of Representatives, 435 people. That goes against Article One of the Constitution. They don't seem to care about any of that, they just want to consolidate power and spend money. I mean, a drunken sailor would be offended to be compared to them and what they did with this bill. Money to illegals, taxpayer funding of abortion, this is crazy.”
Scalise believes the House should be in session and working on behalf of the American people, just as the Senate is doing. Out of the 435 members in the House, the minority whip said about 24 people were unable to be in attendance.
"To suggest that it's complicated to get here is just fallacy. So, why [Pelosi] did this, it's about a power grab. It surely has nothing to do with health and safety ..." he explained.
The minority whip cited the number of states that are reopening their economy, including restaurants and houses of worship, as a prime example of why the proxy voting move is a power grab.
"We could finally go back into places of worship, and yet she's going to say that she doesn't want Congress to be meeting in Washington debating bills. She just would rather just take your proxy vote and hold on to it so that she can vote for you," Scalise said of Pelosi. "I'll tell you this, and of course Jason, you would have never done this either. Nancy Pelosi is not going to get my vote, she surely would not have gotten yours."
Scalise's message for those who voted in favor of the bill is simple: resign.
"But for any of those folks that voted for this bill today, how do they go back home and explain today they voted to allow Nancy Pelosi to vote for them so that they don't have to go to work anymore?" he asked. "Well, then why don't they just resign their seat and send somebody up here who wants to come and fight for restoring the American dream up here in Washington?”
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