WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ The coronavirus pandemic has ignited a debate between lawmakers on whether telecommuting and voting by proxy should be allowed in Congress during these unprecedented times.
The House was scheduled to consider the measure allowing remote voting Thursday, but due to growing Republican opposition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, took it off the table.
“My biggest concern is why would you bring people back – jam through a proxy vote and without having worked with both parties making sure Congress is acting in the way and the manner in which we were designed to,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said.
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, argues that members of Congress should be allowed to cast votes remotely during the pandemic.
“Putting 435 people in a room is not a good idea,” he said. “I don’t know what else people need to understand.”
McGovern said remote voting will allow lawmakers to do the work of the people while also doing their part to flatten the curve.
“If members can’t get to Washington – they can tell other members how they want their vote to be cast and it will be listed as if they cast that vote personally,” McGovern said.
Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, said the House must find new ways to conduct business.
“We can spread the disease when we’re talking about trying to stop the disease – that makes no sense,” he said.
Not everyone supports the proposed change, however. Rep. Anthony Brindisi said it may be due to the generational divide between lawmakers.
Rep. Tom Reed, R-New York said he hopes lawmakers can come up with a way to safely conduct business.
“Though I was not a proponent of the proxy approach, I hope [McGovern] and the Democratic leadership do not give up on this issue,” Reed said.
The proposal will now have to wait until at least May to be looked at when Congress is expected to be back in session.