Multiple news outlets are reporting that House Republicans plan to file a lawsuit in federal court against Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) over a recent pandemic-related rule change that allows a single member of Congress to serve as a proxy vote for up to 10 other members of Congress.
According to The Wall Street Journal, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will lead the lawsuit and be joined by nearly two dozen other legislators, including GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA).
The New York Times reports the lawsuit will argue that the rule change, while temporary, will fundamentally transform the nature of the legislature as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. According to Roll Call, Pelosi can extend the 45-day proxy voting period, or shorten it, based on public health information provided by the Sergeant-at-Arms.
After publication, McCarthy posted a statement on Twitter acknowledging the lawsuit and blasting Pelosi’s “voting scheme” as empowering 20 representatives “to control the votes of 220.”
I just filed a lawsuit in federal court to overturn Speaker Pelosi’s unconstitutional proxy voting scheme.
It could allow as few as 20 Representatives to control the votes of 220. This is NOT the representative democracy our Founders envisioned or what our Constitution allows.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) May 26, 2020
Earlier this month, the House voted along party lines to allow Speaker Pelosi to temporarily change the voting rules, with Pelosi noting that “if some people should stay home because of a health issue — thank you for not sharing. We’d rather you do stay home. And if transportation is difficult in that regard we want their voices to be heard,” according to The Washington Times.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, three Democrats voted against the bill and no Republicans voted for it — although Congressman Francis Rooney (R-FL), who was absent the day of the vote, later expressed support for the move.
In the time since Pelosi enacted the rule change, fifty-six members of Congress have submitted letters to the clerk’s office designating other members of Congress as their proxies. According to the clerk’s office, “members designated as proxies may only cast votes on behalf of other members once they have received separate exact instruction with respect to each vote.”
During a speech on the Senate floor last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blasted Democrats for “playing games with the Constitution so they can continue their never ending spring break well into July.”
“Since the early days of this crisis, the self-described ‘People’s House’ has been suspiciously empty of people,” said McConnell. “I understand they’ve convened for legislative session a grand total of two days — two — in the last eight weeks.”
“But there’s a new wrinkle: House Democrats jammed through a precedent-breaking remote voting scheme that will let one member cast ten additional votes,” he continued. “There will be enormous constitutional questions around anything the House does if they fail to demonstrate a real quorum but plow ahead anyhow.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said in a memo that the “new proxy voting system has been developed to afford members greater flexibility to safely record their votes during this national pandemic.”
Article updated with tweet from McCarthy.
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