In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) recently changed longstanding House rules requiring in-person voting to allow a vote by proxy.
House Republicans staunchly opposed the rule change, however — and now, one GOP lawmaker, North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd, has filed legislation that would withhold the pay of any member who casts a vote without being present, as The Washington Times reported Thursday.
“They don’t come to work”
The basic premise of Budd’s bill is simple: if you don’t show up to work to do your job, you shouldn’t get paid — especially when your checks are essentially signed by the American taxpayers you were elected to represent.
The congressman’s office issued a press release on Thursday announcing his No Pay for Proxy Voting Act, which would temporarily withhold the pay of members that take advantage of the new proxy rule to cast votes without actually being present in the House chamber.
“Outsourcing the duty of a member of Congress is unconstitutional and wrong. House members should not be allowed to send someone else to do their jobs for them,” Budd said.
“In the real world, if you don’t show up for your job, you don’t get paid. The same principle should apply to our country’s representatives,” he added. “If they don’t come to work, they shouldn’t receive their taxpayer-funded paycheck.”
Budd was joined by at least six co-sponsors for his bill, including fellow North Carolina Republicans Dan Bishop and David Rouzer and Reps. Jack Bergman (R-MI), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), John Curtis (R-UT), Alex Mooney (R-WV), and Bill Posey (R-FL).
“Paid for by taxpayers”
After filing his bill in the House, Budd spoke with the Daily Caller on Thursday, where he noted that Pelosi’s “scheme is unconstitutional” and, beyond that, “just fundamentally wrong.”
“Beyond the fact that House Democrats’ proxy voting scheme is unconstitutional, it also allows members to phone in their public service. That’s just fundamentally wrong,” he said, according to the Daily Caller. “Our salaries are paid for by taxpayers, and if my Democrat colleagues don’t want to show up and vote, then they shouldn’t get that paycheck.”
Breitbart noted, however, that the Constitution’s 27th Amendment prohibits changing congressional pay in the middle of a term, so Budd’s bill would not be able to permanently withhold any pay from a member of Congress who voted by proxy. Rather, the pay for any day in which a member voted by proxy would be withheld and placed in an escrow account that would eventually be handed over to the member at the end of the term.
More problems for Pelosi
A group of House Republicans, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), has meanwhile filed a lawsuit against Pelosi over the new rule, which they similarly view as unconstitutional, since the Constitution appears to require in-person voting for any real business to take place.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the suit and Budd’s new “no pay” bill in response to Pelosi’s proxy vote maneuver — especially given that often the best way to get somebody’s attention is to place their money in jeopardy.