Gohmert rails against allowing proxy voting over 'wishy washy' fear of dying

Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump order aims to curb US agencies' use of foreign workers after TVA outrage | EPA transition back to the office alarms employees | Hundreds of green groups oppose BLM nominee Interior stresses 'showing up for work' after Grijalva tests positive for coronavirus Trump's junk medicine puts his own supporters at deadly risk MORE (R-Texas) railed against Democrats’ proposal to allow proxy voting in the House amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the move would violate the Constitution.

“You can’t pass a bill on this floor with proxies and have it upheld unless you change the Constitution, and this doesn’t do it. Now some here say, ‘But if it saves one life, it’s worth it.’ How about the million Americans who laid down their lives not for a wishy washy ‘Oh maybe we should be afraid we might get something and die.’ They didn’t do that in the Spanish flu days, they didn’t do it in the Civil War, but now we’re going to do it? Come on,” Gohmert shouted from the House floor Friday.

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The Texas Republican cited the Constitution’s clause clarifying that a quorum in the House is constituted by a majority of its members being present.

House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who helped craft the proxy voting proposal, slammed Gohmert’s remarks. 

"Oh my goodness," McGovern said after Gohmert finished speaking.

He then pointed to a letter from a constitutional expert stating that the Constitution indicates that each body of Congress has the authority to establish its own rules. 

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"The gentleman refers to the Spanish flu. Let me just say: That is not an example of something we want to aspire to. The Congress was basically paralyzed," McGovern said. "So please, let's get real here." 

House Democrats this week laid out their proposal in which absent lawmakers could permit colleagues in the House chamber to cast floor votes on their behalf, and allow committees to conduct hearings, depositions and markups of legislation away from Washington. Democrats have said the measures are necessary for lawmakers to follow social distancing guidelines.

However, Republicans came out swinging against the plan, saying Democrats are trying to “abandon ship.”

“Across our nation, Americans of all stripes are making sacrifices and doing their part to defeat this virus – and they expect Washington to do the same,” top Republicans wrote in a joint statement Wednesday. “Unfortunately, far from being ‘captains of this ship’ as Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] recently proclaimed, the Democrats’ proposal calls for the House of Representatives to abandon ship – potentially for the remainder of the session.”

Cristina Marcos contributed.