The House of Representatives is inching closer to finally taking their role as essential workers in the coronavirus crisis seriously, and determining a way to work remotely. Inching, but not there yet. They are considering the possibility of letting members have others vote for them by proxy.
“A member casting a vote on behalf of another member would be required to have exact direction from that member on how to vote and would have to follow that direction,” Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, who came up with the proposal, said in a statement after a private conference call held among House Democrats Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed the proposal, her office says. It would require either a unanimous consent agreement or a vote on the floor to make the rule change.
The problem with this proposal is that it still exposes some members—as well as Capitol Hill staff—to potential infection. It would definitely limit the number that would need to be in the chamber together, however, allowing a single member to vote on behalf of multiple others. McGovern's proposal would also allow the number of proxies held and votes cast determine a quorum, rather than physical presence of members. It would also require full disclosure of whether votes were cast infernos or by proxy. What's out for the time being, according to both Pelosi and McGovern—is the use of any kind of technology for remote voting by individual lawmakers.
There is at least the fact that Democratic House leadership is taking the safety of everyone in that chamber seriously. As opposed to Mitch McConnell's Republican Senate. Compare and contrast: