While the Senate Works, the House Ignores the Constitution to Avoid Working

RNLA Board Members Chuck Cooper and Elliot Berke are leading the legal team representing House Republicans working to stop proxy voting as approved by Democrats in the U.S. House.  As the Wall Street Journal reported:  

House Republicans planned to file a lawsuit later Tuesday against Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to block the chamber’s new system of voting by proxy during the coronavirus pandemic, according to House GOP leadership aides. . . .

No Republicans voted in support of rules changes passed by the House in mid-May that will allow lawmakers to cast votes by proxy during the pandemic, and leaders had signaled a possible lawsuit. . . .

The GOP lawsuit alleges that the new rules are unconstitutional because the Constitution requires a quorum, or a majority, of lawmakers to be physically present to conduct business. The Republicans believe the Constitution’s drafters expected there to be challenges to gathering and still wanted lawmakers to physically be present to conduct business.

House Republicans led by Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Rules Committee Ranking Member Tom Cole, and Ranking House Administration Member Rodney Davis released the following statement on proxy voting:

As we have said from the start, any change to centuries-old rules of the House should only be done in a bipartisan way that achieves consensus. This proposal fails that critical test and would forever alter our democratic institution for the worse.

It creates a dangerous new definition of “voting by proxy” that runs counter to past House committee precedent, current Senate committee practice, and the Constitution.

It facilitates only legislative theater while enabling the most significant power grab in the history of Congress, leaving our constituents’ voices shut out of the real lawmaking process.

And it disregards rights of the minority at all levels, a failure of leadership that will have lasting consequences for our institution beyond the current pandemic.

At the same time much of the country is reopening, the U.S. House is seemingly going in the opposite direction.  How can the U.S. Senate, which has many elderly members, work successfully in person with accommodations such as longer voting periods, but the U.S. House cannot?  Is Speaker Pelosi trying to virtue signal, or worse, limit debate?  Regardless of the success of this lawsuit, we hope the voters will again be reminded of House Democrats' extreme partisanship when they vote this November.