Pelosi’s Nov. 12 announcement was shared in a message to House members and was posted to her website.
“To All Members on Extension of Remote Voting ‘Covered Period.’ In light of the attached notification by the Sergeant-at-Arms, in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician, that a public health emergency is in effect due to a novel coronavirus, I am hereby extending the ‘covered period’ designated on January 4, 2021, pursuant to section 3(s) of House Resolution 8, until December 30, 2021,” the note reads.
William Walker, sergeant-at-arms, had previously notified Pelosi in a letter (pdf) that in “consultation with the Office of ‘Attending Physician,’ I write to provide further notification that the public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 remains in effect.”
The House has allowed remote voting throughout the pandemic as a method for members to fulfill their duties. Remote voting, which was first implemented in 2020, was initially intended to cover 45 days.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called for an end to the practice of remote or proxy voting in September, calling it a“patently unconstitutional practice.”
In the early days of the pandemic in May 2020, the House approved a resolution allowing members to cast votes on the House floor by proxy, on the theory that it was advisable to limit attendance in Congress to combat the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said at the time the new absentee voting protocol was needed because the virus posed a “mortal danger,” and Democratic leadership said when the policy began that it would be a temporary fix.
This “unprecedented” proxy voting resolution permits a single member to vote on behalf of up to 10 absent members, according to McCarthy’s petition for certiorari, or review.
“Today, we are asking the Supreme Court to uphold the Constitution by overturning Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s perpetual proxy voting power grab. Although the Constitution allows Congress to write its own rules, those rules cannot violate the Constitution itself, including the requirement to actually assemble in person,” McCarthy said in a statement.
“Since its adoption 14 months ago, proxy voting has shattered 231 years of legislative precedent and shielded the majority from substantive policy debates and questions, effectively silencing the voices of millions of Americans,” he said. “It was a raw abuse of power … [and its] continuation is an insult to hard-working taxpayers who are back at work safely while members of Congress get a pass to skip work but still get paid.
“The Founders wisely rejected proxy voting because they knew Congress cannot adequately ‘do the business’ of our chambers without deliberating, and we cannot adequately deliberate without assembling in person. The Senate has managed through the whole pandemic without proxy voting because they know, as we do, that it is unconstitutional.”
Matthew Vadum contributed to this report.