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House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. (Photo: screen capture republicanleader.gov)

CA’s Congressional House Democrats Give Away Votes in Pelosi’s Proxy Plan

New Federal lawsuit says congressional proxy voting is unconstitutional

By Katy Grimes, May 27, 2020 2:17 pm

Since the coronavirus has gripped the country, Congressional House Democrats have been pushing plans to allow a proxy vote, where a representative has a colleague cast a vote on his or her behalf, in effect, giving the vote away.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) says this would upend 231 years of legislative precedent and concentrate power in Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hands.

“While other states are opening up, the House isn’t,” McCarthy said in a press conference Wednesday. “This is dereliction of duty.”

McCarthy outlined other national crises and pandemics that did not shut the House down, and in fact it remained open and members voted:

  • 1793 Yellow Fever
  • Civil War
  • War of 1812
  • 1918 Spanish Flu
  • 9-11-2001

McCarthy said, as it currently stands, 71 Democrat Members of Congress have written individual letters to the House Clerk expressing their intent to vote by proxy. Of those members, 26 represent congressional districts in California. “This means that 19 million people in California have no voice.”

It’s also important to note that the 26 California House Members represent nearly half of the entire California congressional delegation of 53 total members.

The contrast between Republicans and Democrats on this issue, is striking.

“Being a Member of Congress is a duty and honor that I do not take lightly; Members choose to pursue this job fully understanding the burden of responsibility we have to serve as the voice of our constituents in the legislative process,” Republican Leader McCarthy said.

“That is why I vehemently oppose the Pelosi proxy rule that takes an unprecedented step against over 200 years of precedent and accountability, distancing representatives from the constituents they were elected to serve. All members that physically and capably can vote should vote in person as the Constitution provides, and those who cannot vote should continue to submit how they would have voted as representatives in the People’s House have done for centuries, in times of peace and in times of crisis, and this time should be no different.”

“The founders believed we should assemble. Article I says the House is supposed to assemble,” McCarthy said. “The Democrats’ proxy vote is to make their own rules.”

House Republicans announced they are suing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to stop the new proxy voting rules, McCarthy reported Wednesday.

The lawsuit was filed in the D.C. Federal District Court.

An overview of the lawsuit on McCarthy’s website explains the Article I violations:

  • Voting by proxy is flatly prohibited by the Constitution. It is impossible to read the Constitution and overlook its repeated and emphatic requirement that Members of Congress physically assemble:
  • Article I, Section 4, Clause 2 states: “The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall . . . .”
  • Article I, Section 5, Clause 1 states: “Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections . . . and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; . . . and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members.”
  • Article I, Section 6, Clause 1 states: “The Senators and Representatives . . . shall . . . be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses”

“Ultimately, as few as 20 members could control the vote of over 220 members under this rule for the foreseeable future. That is not only irresponsible leadership, it is patently unconstitutional, as 231 years of Congressional history and Supreme Court precedent make abundantly clear,” McCarthy said.

The 71 Democrats have written to the House Clerk to give their vote to another member, McCarthy said at the press conference. This has led to one member of Congress representing five congressional districts at one time. 

These are the California House Democrats who have sent in written letters to give their votes to other members:

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