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 RoyRepublicans face worsening outlook in battle for House The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden builds big lead in battleground Florida Internal Democratic poll shows tight race in key Texas House district MORE (Texas) argued that voting remotely would be “inappropriate,” while Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive House fails to override Trump veto of bill blocking DeVos student loan rule The Hill's Coronavirus Report: BIO CEO Greenwood says US failed for years to heed warnings of coming pandemic; Trump: Fauci won't testify to 'a bunch of Trump haters' 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 Swalwell'This already exists': Democrats seize on potential Trump executive order on preexisting conditions Swalwell: Barr has taken Michael Cohen's job as Trump's fixer The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Chris Christie says Trump team wasn't aggressive enough early in COVID-19 crisis; Tensions between White House, Fauci boil over MORE (D-Calif.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Van TaylorNicholas (Van) Van Campen TaylorCook shifts 20 House districts toward Democrats Former Texas Rep. Sam Johnson dies at 89 House GOP urge Trump against supporting additional funding for state and local governments MORE (R-Texas) spearheaded a letter sent to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Schumer slam Trump executive orders, call for GOP to come back to negotiating table Trump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Sunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief MORE (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthySunday shows preview: White House, congressional Democrats unable to breach stalemate over coronavirus relief A trillion stimulus, but Kevin McCarthy for renewable energy — leading businesses want to change that When will telling the truth in politics matter again? 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 McConnellTrump signs executive orders after coronavirus relief talks falter Coronavirus deal key to Republicans protecting Senate majority Coronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal 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.