House Republicans filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on May 26 in an effort to block a system of proxy voting put in place that allows members to vote on each others behalf during the CCP virus pandemic.
Pelosi announced earlier this month that the House of Representatives would begin a 45-day period of “remote proceedings,” which would include proxy voting on the House floor, allowing members who are unable to be physically present at Capitol Hill due to the CCP virus pandemic to designate another lawmaker as their “proxy” and cast votes on their behalf.
Members will also be able to attend committee meetings virtually during the pandemic. The historic ruling, passed as part of a $3 trillion aid bill that the Republican-controlled Senate so far has not taken up, was approved largely along party lines but is only temporary.
However, a lawsuit, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), alleges the new rules are unconstitutional (pdf) because the Constitution requires a “quorum,” of lawmakers to be physically present in order to conduct business. Twenty other Republican members of Congress and four constituents are listed as co-plaintiffs.
It also argues that changes to how the House votes were not enacted amid the Yellow Fever of 1793, the Civil War, the burning of the Capitol during the War of 1812, the Spanish Flu of 1918, or the 9/11 terror attack, noting that “Congress has never flinched from its constitutional duty to assemble at the nations capital and conduct the peoples business.”
“This week, House Democrats will break over 230 years of precedent and allow Members of Congress to vote by proxy on the House floor,” McCarthy said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “This is not simply arcane parliamentary procedure. It is a brazen violation of the Constitution, a dereliction of our duty as elected officials, and would silence the American peoples voice during a crisis. Although I wish this matter could have been solved on a bipartisan basis, the stakes are too high to let this injustice go unaddressed. That is why, along with other members of the House and our constituents, I have filed a lawsuit in federal court to overturn Speaker Pelosis unconstitutional power grab.”
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