DNC chief's bipartisan voting switcheroo
© Anne Wernikoff

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles Florida Democrat says vaccines, masks are key to small-business recovery DNC members grow frustrated over increasing White House influence MORE (D-Fla.) showed a colleague some bipartisan (if rule-breaking) love this week, voting for Rep. Mario Diaz-BalartMario Rafael Diaz-BalartAnother voice of reason retires Defense contractors ramp up donations to GOP election objectors Bottom line MORE (R-Fla.) so the congressman could wrap up an interview with a reporter.

Wasserman Schultz danced around waving excitedly to get her home-state colleague's attention in the Speaker’s Lobby Tuesday afternoon, just off the House floor.

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“Deb, are you going in?” he asked before handing her his voting card. “Can you…” he said, trailing off as he handed her the card.

Wasserman Schultz, whose day job at the DNC means she's usually acting as the party's attack dog against Republicans, tilted her head quizzically and half-shrugged.

"Yeah, the opposite, the opposite," Diaz-Balart said with a laugh, asking her to vote as him in the opposite way as she was voting during a roll-call vote. 

Wasserman Schultz headed onto the House floor.

“He handed off his voting card to me, yes,” she told The Hill upon her return a minute later.

Diaz-Balart wasn’t so reticent about what had transpired.

“Yeah,” he said with a shrug when asked if he’d asked Wasserman Schultz to cast a vote in his place. “As long as we’re here we can do it. This is part of the floor, as you know. ... You see people do it all the time. I can’t be in my office, I can’t leave here and do it.” 

“I know that I can pretty much count that I’ll vote the opposite of her on pretty much every issue,” he said with a laugh. “And she did it too, ‘of course it’s the opposite, no problem.’ It is pretty funny. But her and I, except for two issues, we’re going to be on the other side of the issue. We agree on Israel and Cuba.”

Diaz-Balart said despite their policy differences, he considers Wasserman Schultz “a personal friend” and trusts her not to “play games” with his vote.

It turns out that Diaz-Balart and Wasserman Schultz were a little fuzzy on the rules, which state that congressmen “may not authorize any other person to cast the vote of such member or record the presence of such member in the House,” and that “No other person may cast a member’s vote or record a member’s presence.”

The literal interpretation of that rule is commonly ignored by members who often do each other a favor by punching in their votes around the crowded boxes that record each roll call. 

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas) suggested that was acceptable, but didn’t seem thrilled that the pair of Floridians had decided to extend that courtesy to the Speaker’s Lobby. 

“The members need to be on the floor voting. That’s the rule. Members need to be present, on the floor and voting,” Sessions told The Hill on Wednesday.

“When people are on the floor and we go into two-minute voting it is not unusual for me to hand my card to another member while I am on the floor watching that," he said before saying that the courtesy doesn't extend off the House floor.

“That is not allowed, you do not do that,” he said,” promising to “take care of that matter.” 

Wasserman Schultz’s and Diaz-Balart’s offices declined to comment.