House Speaker Nancy Pelosi used COVID-19 to institute proxy voting. With the virus on the wane, she still won’t let it go.
Pelosi has extended proxy voting to March 30, The Hill reported. This practice, which allows lawmakers to vote on legislation from the comfort of their homes, was supposed to be temporary accommodation.
Proxy voting was put in place in May 2020 at the height of the pandemic and must be renewed every 45 days. The most recent extension was set to expire Sunday and, by all accounts, outlived its usefulness.
However, the House sergeant-at-arms determined the public health emergency “remains in effect” after consulting with the Office of the Attending Physician. This is enough to allow Pelosi to persist with her renewals.
There has been pushback against proxy voting from lawmakers led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). A lawsuit against Pelosi charged that it was unconstitutional to allow votes to be cast anywhere but from the floor.
Unfortunately, the lawsuit went nowhere as the lower courts rejected the suit and U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear McCarthy’s appeal. It provided no explanation or information about how many justices opposed it.
“Members of Congress should show up to work on behalf of their constituents, just as they have since our nation was founded,” McCarthy’s spokesperson said of the high court’s rejection. “We can’t rely on a separate branch of government to make Congress do their jobs as intended by the Constitution, and if Republicans earn back the majority, proxy voting will be eliminated on Day One.”
Many shady practices were excused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but few persist in the way that proxy voting does. As mask and other mandates are being lifted throughout the country — and the world — Pelosi is still allowing for lawmakers to change the legal landscape of the country from the comfort of their own homes.