Speaker Pelosi extends controversial ‘proxy voting’ in House until end of year

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) implemented the controversial and unprecedented practice of “proxy” voting in which members of Congress could cast authorized votes on behalf of their absent colleagues.

Now, as Republicans are poised to reclaim control of the House in January, Pelosi has once again extended proxy voting in the chamber until the end of the year, Breitbart reported.

The move strongly appears to be an act of spite by Pelosi against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who is the frontrunner to replace Pelosi as House Speaker next year and who has made it abundantly clear that proxy voting will end along with Pelosi’s tenure in leadership.

Proxy voting extended

In a “Dear Colleagues” letter sent to all House members on Thursday, Pelosi wrote, “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 25, 2022.”

What that means is that regardless of the fact that the pandemic is, for all intents and purposes, over as a major “public health emergency” necessitating drastic protective measures, Pelosi has once again extended the supposed mitigation measure that is proxy voting.

According to the Clerk of the House, “Pursuant to House Resolution 8 and the covered period designated by the Speaker on Monday, January 4, 2021, the Office of the Clerk is verifying and making available certain letters designating, changing, and revoking the authority for remote voting by proxy. 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.”

Interestingly enough, the House Clerk’s website also includes an updated tracker of all active and prior authorization letters submitted by members and notes how many such letters have been submitted by each individual member.

To be sure, while some of those authorization letters were legitimately submitted by sick members who couldn’t vote in person, many were also submitted as an abuse of convenience by perfectly healthy members who simply had other plans on their schedules beside voting in-person in the House chamber.

McCarthy plans to end all pandemic restrictions, Pelosi spokesman snarks back

Breitbart noted that McCarthy is on record as promising to end proxy voting once he is presumably in charge, but that’s not all — McCarthy also sent a letter to top House administrative officials on Wednesday that announced his intention to end all pandemic-related restrictions and “fully reopen” the House to the American people next year.

That, predictably, earned a snarky retort the same day from Speaker Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill, who said in a statement, “The Minority Leader’s incoherent letter is nothing more than a desperate attempt to distract from the unmitigated disaster that was his party’s performance in the midterm election — one that only looks worse as ballots continue to get counted.”

Hammill asserted that McCarthy was attempting to “intimidate the professionals who run the House” and praised Pelosi’s own “common-sense, science-based steps to reopen while keeping everyone in our community safe.

“A phased reopening has been necessary to limit the spread of a plague that has killed more than a million Americans, including two of the Minority Leader’s own Members — and after a deadly insurrection provoked by his personal hero and broadly supported by his conference,” he added, and ultimately concluded with a swipe, “And in case he’s already forgotten, the Minority Leader is still the Minority Leader — and he shouldn’t count his chickens before they hatch.”

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