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 RoyJoining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks Momentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks GOP Reps. Greene, Clyde accrue nearly 0K in combined mask fines MORE (Texas) argued that voting remotely would be “inappropriate,” while Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxHouse Ethics panel dismisses security screening fine issued to GOP lawmaker GOP beginning to jockey for post-election leadership slots GOP lawmaker fined ,000 for failing to complete House security screening 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 SwalwellThere's no such thing as 'absolute immunity' for former presidents The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden strategizes with Senate Dems The Hill's 12:30 Report: 2021 ends with 40-year inflation high MORE (D-Calif.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Van TaylorVan TaylorWHIP LIST: How House Democrats, Republicans say they'll vote on infrastructure bill Shakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel MORE (R-Texas) spearheaded a letter sent to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiJoining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate Momentum builds to prohibit lawmakers from trading stocks MORE (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyJoining Pelosi, Hoyer says lawmakers should be free to trade stocks Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation 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 McConnellDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Mellman: Voting rights or the filibuster?  Budowsky: To Dems: Run against the do-nothing GOP, Senate 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.