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Americans should be outraged and frightened by an unprecedented rule change backed by Democrats and approved by the House on a 217-189 vote Friday night allowing for proxy voting and remote committee meetings to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.
While the duration of the rule change – which drew strong objections from Republicans – was labeled as “temporary” for 45 days, in government there is rarely a “temporary” duration to any new centralization of power.
Under this new House rule, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has more control over the House than any previous speaker in American history.
House members now no longer have to travel to Washington to cast votes. We can vote from the comfort of our air-conditioned living rooms and avoid any questions from reporters or constituents.
We can vote by proxy. Only a small number of House members are required to be in the chamber for future votes, and each member can be armed with proxies from other members who decided against traveling to our nation’s capital to cast their own votes.
Until now, each member was responsible for casting his or her own vote, and none of us could allow another member to vote for us. The tradition and transparency of this process has now been turned completely on its head thanks to Speaker Pelosi.
Under the new rule change, we can’t make parliamentary inquiries to ask questions of the chair about the bills we are voting on. We also can’t make a motion to adjourn the House. These two important changes severely handicap the already fading rights of the minority party.
The vote Friday night was not only unprecedented in our nation’s history – it was completely unwarranted.
Even in the midst of a public health emergency, the Senate – which has access to the same health information as does Speaker Pelosi – has been resuming its constitutional responsibilities.
Americans should applaud Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for refusing to play Pelosi’s game by opposing remote voting for his own chamber.
Worse still, Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues expect essential workers in their home districts to show up to their health care clinics, hospitals, grocery stores and other crucial assignments to provide services and resources to members of Congress in our homes.
How could Pelosi refill her luxury freezer with ice cream without these essential workers?
Why do Democrats think that members of Congress are more entitled to remain in the comforts of our homes to discharge our constitutional responsibilities?
The American people deserve better – and they should demand better from their representatives.
Pelosi and House Democrats have sent a horrific message to Americans in the midst of a national crisis. Over 36 million Americans are unemployed thanks to their state local government responses to this coronavirus pandemic, but Democrats can’t be bothered to travel back to Washington to do the jobs they were elected to do.
Calls to suicide hotlines are up; domestic violence and abuse may be on the rise; kids are out of school. But House Democrats don’t want to send a unified message that they are standing with their constituents from the capitol.
Our vote Friday night was a mockery and a disgrace for members who voted to affirm Pelosi’s remote and proxy voting system. America has faced more severe challenges and crises in our past. Even members of Congress have faced more difficult physical challenges to be in person, in Washington, to do the people’s business.
As members of Congress, we must uphold our constitutional obligation and tradition to work from our nation’s capital.
In spite of House Democrats’ cowardly actions Friday, I will continue to exercise the constitutional duties my constituents sent me to Washington to carry out. I will be in Washington on a regular basis, waiting for Speaker Pelosi and my Democratic colleagues to join me to perform the business our constituents expect of us.
I implore all of my colleagues: let’s show the American people that Congress is essential and ready to do the people’s business.