House proxy voting extended into mid-November
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on Thursday that she was extending proxy voting in the House, which was previously extended until at least Oct. 1, until Nov. 15.
In a “Dear colleague” letter to House members, Pelosi said she made the decision in light of continued confirmation from both the House sergeant-at-arms and Capitol physician that there is “a public health emergency is in effect due to a novel coronavirus.”
Proxy voting, a mechanism that allows House members to conduct legislative business and votes remotely, was established in late May 2020 as a way for lawmakers to safely continue performing legislative functions while following protocols to keep them safe from COVID-19.
The measure is effective for 45 days at time and requires an authorization from the House Speaker, as well as confirmation that there is still a public health emergency due to COVID-19 from both the House sergeant-at-arms and Capitol physician, to extend.
Proxy voting was initially met with opposition from Republicans. Over time it became embraced by some GOP members, including after the Jan. 6 insurrection as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) acknowledged that members could use the mechanism if they had concerns about their safety around the Capitol.
In February, a group of Republicans also embraced proxy voting so that they could attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in Florida.
Earlier this month, McCarthy petitioned for the Supreme Court to take up a lawsuit against the proxy voting measure after losing a legal challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. A panel of judges ruled in July that the court did not have the power to involve itself in the House’s decision making on its rules.
The Supreme Court has not yet said if it will take up McCarthy’s challenge, but it appears the legal challenge only has the backing of a few Republicans so far. The petition currently only includes McCarthy and Rep. Chip Roy (Texas) as the only Republican lawmakers as parties to the proceeding.