Two Republican members of Congress called out their colleagues earlier this week for voting by proxy, an act they claim is destructive to the legislative branch.
Reps. Chip Roy (R-TX) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) especially criticized the GOP representatives who used vote-by-proxy rules to avoid voting in person on the stimulus bill last week, according to the Washington Examiner.
Reps. Ted Budd (R-NC), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Greg Steube (R-FL), and Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) instead attended and spoke at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference in Orlando, Florida, prompting accusations that they were abusing the rules instituted last year that allowed members of Congress to vote remotely because of COVID-19.
“Democrats in particular are destroying the institution by doing this — we don’t meet, we don’t debate, we don’t amend,” Roy said Monday in a statement. “But even a number of my GOP colleagues are now complicit and have given in to the Democrats’ recklessness.”
Roy, who has excoriated the House of Representatives before for its lax attendance, added that voting by proxy is an “unconstitutional attack on a functional Congress” by which “members … avoid their responsibility to meet in D.C. to do their jobs.”
Gallagher echoed Roy in a video he posted Monday on Twitter. “Proxy voting is destroying Congress,” he said. “They sign a paper saying, ‘Due to the pandemic or the health emergency, I am unable to vote in person.’ But we know that they’re then going to other events. We had a bunch of Republicans go to CPAC on Friday. Democrats have been abusing this. The numbers go up on fly-out days.”
“I am seriously concerned that proxy voting is now going to become a permanent feature of Congress, meaning that Congress is going to be permanently dysfunctional and fake in many ways,” Gallagher also said. “People can pretend they’re actually doing their job while flying all over the country, raising money, and raising their social media profile.”
Proxy voting is destroying Congress. pic.twitter.com/7VOHc559NQ
— Rep. Mike Gallagher (@RepGallagher) March 1, 2021
Voting by proxy has proven controversial since House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) allowed members of his caucus to do so last year out of an abundance of caution. It prompted unsuccessful litigation from some Republicans who claimed it was unconstitutional.
Other Republicans have argued in favor of voting by proxy. Gaetz defended it in a November op-ed for the Washington Examiner, writing in part:
Some will say that remote voting will erode the quality of legislative debate. Defending its current quality would be difficult. During virtually every debate, congressional participation is so low that staff members from both parties are told to sit in the camera frame to avoid the chamber looking empty. On virtually no days do lawmakers outnumber unelected staff on the floor of the People’s House during debate.
To put it bluntly, after four years in Congress, I’m convinced that time in Washington doesn’t make any of us better. Time at home reminds us of our priorities and our purpose. All humans innately want to please those who are in our proximity. If we spend more time with our constituents, we will be a more representative body. Congress can’t drain the swamp if its members primarily spend time wallowing in the mud with swamp-monsters.
And if we cannot drain the swamp, we should at least spend less time in it.