Republican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC

Republican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC
© Greg Nash

Rep. Mike GallagherMichael (Mike) John GallagherWisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi considers adding GOP voices to Jan. 6 panel Ron Johnson: 'I may not be the best candidate' for 2022 midterms MORE (R-Wis.) on Monday criticized lawmakers for using the proxy voting system implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to skip floor votes for reasons unrelated to their health, including fellow House Republicans who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday.

Many Republicans have warmed to proxy voting in the last few months after previously launching a lawsuit last year that challenged it as unconstitutional and arguing that members of Congress should show up to work in person like other essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

Those Republicans included 13 who voted by proxy on Friday on the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package and filed letters with the House clerk stating that they were unable to attend floor proceedings "due to the ongoing public health emergency" — but were actually attending CPAC in Orlando, Fla.

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Gallagher said in a video posted to Twitter that proxy voting is "destroying Congress" and questioned the need to continue allowing the system — which was implemented so that lawmakers could vote remotely if they were sick, quarantining or otherwise unable to travel due to the pandemic — now that many members of Congress are vaccinated.

"We had a bunch of Republicans go to CPAC on Friday. Democrats have been abusing this. The numbers go up on fly-out days. It totally undermines any legitimate need for proxy voting. More to the point, I would like to see how many members who are proxy voting have already been vaccinated," Gallagher said.

Gallagher expressed concern that proxy voting would result in House members spending even less time on Capitol Hill building relationships with one another to facilitate the basic responsibilities of legislating.

"I am seriously concerned that proxy voting is now going to become a permanent feature of Congress, meaning that Congress is going to be permanently dysfunctional and fake in many ways. People can pretend they're actually doing their job while flying all over the country raising money and raising their social media profile. It is long past time to end proxy voting, which I believe is unconstitutional. Let's get back to the basics of legislating and oversight in Congress, which requires you to be there in person. Stop the proxy voting. Stop the insanity," Gallagher said.

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Democrats maintained that the proxy voting system would be in place only for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic when they voted to establish it last May.

But some lawmakers have been voting by proxy for reasons unrelated to the pandemic, such as the Republicans who attended CPAC on Friday and two Florida Democrats, Reps. Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristDeSantis's reelection campaign will be brutal — and he could lose Crist rips DeSantis over Florida COVID-19 spike: 'We don't have leadership' Pressure mounts for DeSantis in Florida MORE and Darren SotoDarren Michael SotoBiden signs bill to designate the National Pulse Memorial in Orlando Puerto Rico's former governor stages a comeback Pulse nightclub to become a national memorial 5 years after deadly mass shooting MORE, who attended a SpaceX rocket launch in their home state.

House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseRepublican who went maskless now says coronavirus 'wants to kill us' Republican governors revolt against CDC mask guidance House to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance MORE (R-La.) accused the two Florida Democrats at the time of using proxy voting to "play hooky."

Former Rep. Francis RooneyLaurence (Francis) Francis RooneyPricing carbon can help solve the infrastructure funding dilemma Allies of GOP leader vow to oust Liz Cheney Republican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC MORE (R-Fla.), who retired at the end of last year, was the first Republican to use the proxy voting system last July.

By December, four other Republicans — most of whom, like Rooney, were leaving Congress — had also adopted proxy voting.

The only returning Republican using proxy voting at the time was Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzPhotos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - CDC equates Delta to chickenpox in contagiousness Gaetz, Greene and Gohmert turned away from jail to visit Jan. 6 defendants MORE (Fla.), who argued in a Washington Examiner op-ed in November that "I'm convinced that time in Washington doesn’t make any of us better. Time at home reminds us of our priorities and our purpose."

Then in January, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthy58 percent say Jan. 6 House committee is biased: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate finalizes .2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE (R-Calif.) gave Republicans the green light to use proxy voting given security concerns in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol by a mob of former President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic MORE's supporters who tried to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election results.

Since then, dozens of Republicans have been voting by proxy in recent weeks.

The 13 Republicans scheduled to speak at CPAC who voted by proxy on Friday were Reps. Gaetz, Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddPeter Thiel flexes financial muscle ahead of 2022 Trump takes two punches from GOP Schumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up MORE (N.C.), Jim Banks (Ind.), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), Mark GreenMark GreenSenators introduce bipartisan bill to expand foreign aid partnerships Overnight Health Care: CDC encourages schools to open for in-person learning, masks optional | President directs moves on drug importation, calls for plan to lower drug prices | FDA asks for federal investigation of Alzheimer's drug approval Bipartisan lawmakers press NIH for info on deleted coronavirus data MORE (Tenn.), Paul GosarPaul Anthony Gosar57 House Republicans back Georgia against DOJ voting rights lawsuit Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Reporter: Gosar's immigration proposal shows lack of 'unifying theme' for GOP opposition MORE (Ariz.), Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaDarrell Issa gets Democratic challenger ahead of 2022 GOP leans into racial issues ahead of midterms 'I want to cry': House Republicans take emotional trip to the border MORE (Calif.), Ronny Jackson (Texas), Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyLobbying world Lobbying world Liz Cheney says McConnell, McCarthy are heads of GOP MORE (Pa.), Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanTempers flare as some in GOP ignore new House mask mandate Greene, Massie, Norman sue Pelosi over mask fines GOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing MORE (S.C.), Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Lawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection Tucker Carlson claims NSA leaked private emails to journalists MORE (Calif.) and Greg SteubeWilliam (Greg) Gregory Steube21 Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who defended Capitol Wray grilled on FBI's handling of Jan. 6 Gaetz, House Republicans introduce bill to defund Postal Service covert operations program MORE (Fla.).