McCarthy Ends Outdated Policy

Gage Skidmore from Surprise, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday (January 19), House Republicans discontinued proxy voting in the lower chamber, which former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA.) implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow lawmakers to vote without having to be present.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA.) made the announcement, declaring proxy voting was “no more,” explaining that the changes would take effect immediately, telling lawmakers they would need to show up if they wanted their votes counted.

Since May 2020, the proxy voting protocol has allowed members of Congress to submit a letter sharing their position on amendments and bills in addition to enabling a colleague to vote on their behalf.

GOP lawmakers have argued that this policy allowed for abuse, enabling legislators to neglect their responsibilities, despite many of their caucus taking advantage of the protocol during the last Congress.

Following Pelosi’s implementation of the protocol, McCarthy was joined by 160 Republicans in a lawsuit he initiated challenging the practice. His lawsuit was ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court.

Furthermore, according to the Brookings Institute, by the end of 2021, approximately 70 percent of GOP Lawmakers who were plaintiffs in the lawsuit had leveraged proxy voting.

Despite the voting protocol initially being a “public health emergency” policy, lawmakers from both parties pawned off their votes to attend events unrelated to the health crisis.

One such example includes three Democratic Michigan lawmakers who used the proxy protocol to attend an event with President Joe Biden at the Dearborn, Mich. facility of Ford Motors in May 2021.