Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is facing backlash from Republicans after she extended proxy voting in the House until after the midterm elections, with critics arguing that she is “following the political science,” not acting based on actual evidence.
The House Speaker announced her actions in a “dear colleague” letter sent to members of the House of Representatives on Friday. Pelosi claimed that she was extending the practice of proxy voting due to the COVID pandemic. Proxy voting is the process by which a member of Congress “who expects to be absent from a vote, gives permission to a chairman, ranking member, or possibly another member to cast a vote on his or her behalf,” according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.
The practice will be allowed to continue until November 10, which is conveniently two days after the upcoming midterm elections — a fact which led congressional Republicans to point out that the timing coincides with campaign season, allowing lawmakers to spend time on the campaign trail while claiming they cannot be present to do their jobs out of fear of COVID. Critics also argued that the move contradicts President Joe Biden’s recent declaration that the pandemic was “over.”
“In light of [the] 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’ [for proxy voting] … until November 10, 2022,” Pelosi wrote in the letter to her colleagues.
In a statement on Friday, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) blasted the letter, calling out the House Speaker for allowing lawmakers to “forgo the most important component of their job.”
“Earlier this week, President Biden claimed that the pandemic was over,” Gallagher said. “It seems everyone but Speaker Pelosi agrees. By extending proxy voting, Speaker Pelosi continues to allow members to forgo the most important component of their job — voting — and lie to their constituents in the process. The day when Republicans take back the House and eliminate this unconstitutional and unethical practice can’t come soon enough.”
The Wisconsin Republican also cited testimony he had given before the House Rules Committee, and a resolution he had authored which would put a stop to proxy voting.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) also called out proxy voting, vowing that Republicans will end the practice as part of their “Commitment to America” agenda, should they regain control of the House following the November midterm elections.
“The Commitment to America champions policies to restore voters’ confidence in Congress, starting with ending Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proxy-voting abuse of power that allowed 90% of House Democrats to get paid without needing to show up for work,” the GOP congressman wrote in an op-ed for the New York Post.
Other Republicans took to Twitter to criticize Pelosi’s decision.
“The big guy said ‘C’mon man, pandemic is over.’ Fully vaxxed can now get 5th shot,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) wrote. “Nevertheless, Pelosi extends proxy voting due to ‘novel coronavirus’ until the week of the election.”
The big guy said “C’mon man, pandemic is over.” Fully vaxxed can now get 5th shot. Nevertheless, Pelosi extends proxy voting due to “novel coronavirus” until the week of the election. pic.twitter.com/flMnBD7krt
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) September 23, 2022
“Hasn’t anyone told Pelosi that Biden said the pandemic is over?” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) tweeted.
Hasn’t anyone told Pelosi that Biden said the pandemic is over? https://t.co/amiiFU2Z4k
— Rep. Darrell Issa (@repdarrellissa) September 23, 2022
“We’ve had a member voting from his boat on vacation. Proxy voting for Congress is a ripoff. Congress needs accountability,” said Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN).
We’ve had a member voting from his boat on vacation. Proxy voting for Congress is a ripoff. Congress needs accountability.
— Tim Burchett (@timburchett) September 24, 2022
Republicans have been calling out the process of proxy voting for some time now. Former Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) appeared on Fox News several months ago to condemn the practice, calling it a “Pelosi power grab.”