The House of Representatives is expected to vote on changing the rules that govern how members vote during the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) urged democratic leaders in the House “to consider a set of recommendations to enable remote voting and committee work." He said it was to prepare Congress "to comply with social-distancing guidelines.”
Hoyer advocated for video conferencing for floor and committee business.
House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-Mass.) made a recommendation for proxy voting, which does not require a high level of technology and remains relatively impervious to hacking.
In the statement, McGovern went further to clarify that the rule would need to be put into a resolution and be implemented only for the duration of the pandemic. The vote would be taken by proxy by those who are physically present.
Those not present in the House chamber could send a letter to the clerk with explicit instructions, authorizing another member to vote on their behalf.
Generally, Democrats have been more vocal about supporting remote voting, and Republican members of the House have voiced their opposition to changes in the voting procedure.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have also expressed reservations about remote voting.
McGovern said that with the uncertainty about the length of stay-at-home orders, Congress needs to consider all the options for carrying out their legislative responsibilities.
He called on Republicans and Democrats alike to vote in favor of the temporary rule change and allow remote voting in committees.
“I also discussed the need to get our committees working again, especially to provide oversight on the trillions of dollars being spent by the Trump administration to combat this pandemic. Making changes to the standing rules of the House and putting in place technology to allow for virtual hearings and markups is complicated and can’t be done overnight,” said McGovern.