The US House of Representatives will allow members to cast votes for up to 10 others and hold hearings remotely. Billed as temporary due to the coronavirus outbreak, the rule change is the most radical in over two centuries.
The new rules passed on Friday evening in a 217-189 vote, with three Democrats and one Independent joining the Republicans in bipartisan opposition.
Democrats, who currently control the chamber, pushed for the change this week, calling it “a common-sense solution to an unprecedented crisis that demands our ingenuity and adaptability as an institution,” in the words of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland). Republicans objected, calling the proposal a “partisan assault on the rights of the House Minority and our ability to effectively represent the American people.”
🚨 Pelosi Power Grab 🚨Dems just broke 200 years of history & changed House rules to allow proxy voting.Now they can turn their voting cards over to Pelosi & sit at home collecting their paychecks while she unilaterally passes legislation with just 20 Members present.Scary.
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) May 15, 2020
Under the new rules, members of Congress will be able to hold committee hearings entirely online, and any member attending a House vote can cast as many as 10 votes on behalf of colleagues who have authorized such proxy voting in writing.
The proxy vote is the most significant change in House voting procedures since electronic voting systems were installed in 1973, National Public Radio reported.
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“We can continue to work in a safe and effective manner without overturning 230 years of constitutional and legislative tradition,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) said ahead of the vote, urging his party to oppose the proposal.
The new rules are meant to be temporary, applying only to “a public health emergency due to a novel coronavirus” as declared by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
However, Friday’s resolution also lays the groundwork for remote voting, directing the House Administration Committee to conduct a study,