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House Republicans oppose remote voting during crisis

House Republicans oppose remote voting during crisis
© Greg Nash

Top Republicans in the House are opposed to the idea of allowing members to vote remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a call Tuesday with House GOP leaders and ranking members on committees, Republicans cited security concerns in arguing remote voting would not be feasible.

“I absolutely do not support remote voting. We have a job to do and we must do it,” one senior GOP lawmaker told The Hill.

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During a separate call Wednesday with GOP lawmakers, members expressed unease “about the message it sends to the country,” one source on the call told The Hill.

During Wednesday’s call, Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyHillicon Valley: Tech companies duke it out at Senate hearing | Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech Seven House Republicans vow to reject donations from Big Tech US Chamber enters hostile takeover by crony capitalists MORE (Texas) argued that voting remotely would be “inappropriate,” while Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxHouse passes bill to prevent violence in health care workplaces House passes bill to combat gender pay gap Republicans argue school accountability waivers overstep Education secretary authority MORE (N.C.) said Congress needs "to maintain structure," the source said.

A handful of on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns that flying members back to Washington and having them gather on the crowded House floor could present a serious health risk, with proponents of a rule change arguing the House should lead by example in following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Reps. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGOP struggles to rein in nativism Personal security costs for anti-Trump lawmakers spiked post-riot Trump knocks CNN for 'completely false' report Gaetz was denied meeting MORE (D-Calif.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Van TaylorVan TaylorHouse Republicans ask Pelosi to reschedule Biden's address to Congress Six ways to visualize a divided America House approves rules package for new Congress MORE (R-Texas) spearheaded a letter sent to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Pelosi pushes for drug pricing measure | South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine | Early data indicate Pfizer, Moderna vaccines safe for pregnant women Allow a vote on the 'Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act' Female Republicans 'horrified' by male GOP lawmaker's description of Cheney: report MORE (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress GOP state attorneys general urge Biden, Congress not to expand Supreme Court Pelosi: Jan. 6 commission must focus only on insurrection MORE (R-Calif.) on Wednesday calling for members to be allowed to vote remotely during the national public health crisis.

"While Congress is an institution with a proud history, we cannot stand on tradition if it puts lives -- and our ability to be the voice of our constituents -- at risk," the lawmakers wrote.

 

The House GOP's concerns with voting remotely putting them in the same camp as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress GOP state attorneys general urge Biden, Congress not to expand Supreme Court The Memo: Washington's fake debate on 'bipartisanship' MORE (R-Ky.), who told reporters on Tuesday that the Senate will “not be doing that. There are a number of different ways to avoid getting too many people together.”
 
Senators have been instructed to practice social distancing, per CDC guidelines, to help prevent the spread of the virus.
 
The House recessed last week after passing its second coronavirus relief measure. The Senate is now working to craft another emergency relief bill, and House members would be required to come back to Washington to vote on the measure unless leaders opt to pass it by unanimous consent.
 
One GOP lawmaker said Tuesday's call involved a discussion about the logistics for voting in the House once they are back in session.
 
"There was discussion about how do we vote once we get back.... You can't have 435 members on the floor together," the lawmaker said, adding that remote voting was not the focus of the call.
 
Updated at 6:30 p.m.