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 RoyThe Hill's 12:30 Report: House to vote on .2T stimulus after mad dash to Washington Conservative lawmakers tell Trump to 'back off' attacks on GOP colleague Lawmakers ask Trump administration to help Gulf oil and gas producers MORE (Texas) argued that voting remotely would be “inappropriate,” while Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxHouse Republicans oppose remote voting during crisis Congress debating ways to help boost economy hit by coronavirus Overnight Health Care: House panel advances legislation on surprise medical bills | Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Trump abortion coverage rule | CDC identifies 13th US patient with coronavirus 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 SwalwellKey House chairman cautions against remote voting, suggests other options amid coronavirus outbreak House Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Congress tiptoes toward remote voting MORE (D-Calif.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Van TaylorNicholas (Van) Van Campen TaylorCongress tiptoes toward remote voting House Republicans oppose remote voting during crisis House GOP criticizes impeachment drive as distracting from national security issues MORE (R-Texas) spearheaded a letter sent to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyLysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House Trump signs T coronavirus relief package Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing 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 McConnellHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Trump signs T coronavirus relief package Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing 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.