In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pushed for proxy voting in the chamber in order to limit the spread of the virus. Even at the outset, a number of Republicans objected to the move — and that opposition only became more acute as Pelosi continued extending the provision.
As the new legislative session dawned this week and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) prepared his final push to rally support for his speakership bid, he reiterated his desire to see proxy voting brought to an end.
“Congress is broken and needs to change,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to colleagues on Sunday, vowing to halt the practice immediately after the GOP assumes power.
Along with Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), McCarthy has been advocating for the end of proxy voting for well over a year. The matter even reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled against Republicans and allowed the provision to remain in place.
In his appeal to the nation’s highest court, McCarthy asserted that “the proxy voting scheme changes the very nature of the House from a face-to-face, deliberative body to an absent one.”
He added that the process “taints every bill” that comes up for a vote.
Of course, Pelosi celebrated the ruling at the time, declaring: “With this failed lawsuit, Republicans have worked to recklessly endanger the health of colleagues, staffers and institutional workers. In doing so, they have fought harder to try to score political points than they have fought to help struggling families during the pandemic.”
After she announced the most recent extension of the proxy voting provision in November, McCarthy expressed his opposition in a letter announcing his candidacy to replace her.
“We will immediately reopen the Capitol and end the Democrat proxy voting and remote work schemes that have inflicted untold damage to this institution,” he wrote.
He included a number of other proposed rule changes in the most recent letter, including the removal of magnetometers at entry points outside of the House chamber. The metal detectors were installed in the aftermath of the riot on Capitol Hill nearly two years ago and a number of House Republicans refused to walk through them, resulting in hefty fines for lawmakers including Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), who racked up multiple penalties totaling $15,000.