Proxy voting goes out with a bang in the House

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A proxy vote was a huge success in the House on Friday, with a majority of House members voting remotely during what is likely to be the last time members will be able to take advantage of pandemic-era procedures.

The House of Representatives convened Friday morning to vote on a $1.7 trillion omnibus package that would fund the government through September and avoid holiday shutdowns. The bill passed by a vote of 225-201-1 after weeks of bipartisan and bicameral negotiations.

But less than 50% of lawmakers showed up on the floor to participate in the trillion-dollar bill. Most lawmakers chose to vote by proxy.

A total of 226 MPs (52.4% of the total, taking into account vacancies) voted remotely on the General Election Bill, leaving the chamber much emptier than usual.

A total of 134 Democrats used this procedure compared to 92 Republicans, a difference of 42 people.

The omnibus vote was the final scheduled ballot for the current House of Representatives, which is scheduled to end on January 3, 2023. Republicans will take control of the House on that day and have vowed to abolish proxy voting. Require all members to vote in person.

The House of Representatives established proxy voting in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to allow lawmakers to vote from home. Since then, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has extended it multiple times, citing the ongoing public health emergency.

She further extended the procedure on Friday, allowing it to run until the end of the 117th Congress on January 3. There are no votes scheduled for that time slot.

Both parties have used pandemic-era procedures for nearly two years, but recently there have been complaints about members using what was intended as a health-related alternative to in-person voting.

Friday’s proxy voting tsunami came a day before Christmas Eve, during a bomb cyclone that hit the central and eastern parts of the country.

“I know better that this has to do with people wanting to go home for Christmas.”

Republicans have opposed proxy voting for months, vowing to scrap pandemic-era procedures once they win a majority in Congress. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R, California) I repeated the plan on Friday.

“Within 11 days, a new @HouseGOP majority will change the course of our country,” he said. wrote on twitter“We will also restore the House of Representatives to a functioning constitutional body by abolishing proxy voting altogether.”

Republicans also tried to use Friday’s wave of proxy voters to throw a wrench into the just-passed omnibus bill.

Rep. Dan Bishop (RN.C.) said legal challenges to the omnibus passing without a physical quorum being voted by a majority of legislators suggested that there is

“The $2 trillion omnibus passed without a quorum. Any party in standing can and should challenge its validity in court,” Bishop said. said in a tweet.

Rep. Chip Roy (Texas Republican) also hinted at future challenges.

“Please note that this $1.7 trillion bill is moving off the floor with no physical quorum in existence,” Roy said on the floor after the omnibus passage. “On the rules he had 218 proxy votes and on the final round he had 226 proxy votes.”

Roy has asked Congress whether there is a “physical quorum required under the Constitution” and whether it has the means to resort to lawmakers challenging decisions to uphold a quorum. The Speaker replied that under House rules a quorum exists.

Bishop, Roy and other members of the conservative House Liberal caucuses were working earlier this year on a plan to allow challenges to the Inflation Reduction Act on proxy and quorum grounds.

In that August ballot, many members voted by proxy. Members of the Freedom Caucus, with McCarthy’s approval, lobbied as many Republicans as possible to cast proxy votes, most passing the bill by proxy and challenging the validity of the bill on the basis of a constitutional quorum. Potentially increased chances of chanting

However, that last-minute effort ultimately failed, with the majority of members voting directly.

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