Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is extending proxy voting until June 28 due to the continued threat from COVID-19.
The controversial exception that allows House members to have colleagues vote on their behalf was set to expire Saturday, but under the advisory of the House's sergeant-at-arms, the "covered period" was extended another six weeks. Pelosi announced the decision in a Dear Colleague letter Friday.
PROXY VOTING LIKELY FINISHED IF REPUBLICANS WIN MIDTERM ELECTIONS
Allowing members to vote on each other's behalf and participate remotely in committee proceedings began May 20, 2020, during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, and proxy voting was extended through the end of the 116th Congress and into the current session.
Republicans generally disfavor allowing the practice, slamming it as unconstitutional and hypocritical as other pandemic restrictions and exceptions fade from public life. They have indicated proxy voting will be over if they win a majority in the chamber in November. Democrats are generally in favor, arguing that it allows members impeded from appearing in person to continue fulfilling their duties to their constituents.
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Though the form members sign when planning to vote by proxy says that they are doing so because of the "ongoing public health emergency," there have been several instances of people taking liberties, and even Republicans who have disparaged the practice have made use of it.
But the worst offenders have been House Democrats. Through mid-April, Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL) was one of three lawmakers who had solely voted via proxy this year. That even surpassed Rep. Kai Kahele, a first-term Hawaii Democrat who this spring came under fire in his home state after the Honolulu Civil Beat reported on his prolonged absence from the Capitol.
The other two proxy voting-only House members through mid-April, Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Albio Sires (D-NJ), are retiring after the 2022 elections, so their avoidance of the House floor is understandable, if not necessarily justifiable. However, Lawson is trying to run again, with his Florida Panhandle district stuck in legal limbo in a court fight over redistricting between state Democrats and GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.