Due to the ongoing “public health emergency” of COVID-19, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended proxy voting in the House, allowing members to cast ballots without being present in the chamber, Fox News informed.
Pelosi, a Democrat from California, said on Friday that Congress is still maintaining some public health safeguards, such as one that permits members to abstain from floor votes, days after President Biden declared that “the pandemic is finished.”
According to Pelosi’s announcement, the extension will last until Nov. 10—days after the midterm elections, in which Democrats are largely anticipated to lose the House.
An interviewer on CBS’ “60 Minutes” last weekend questioned Biden about whether or not the pandemic was finished.
The expansion of proxy voting could make it easier for House members to plan their schedules and conduct more in-district campaigning.
Earlier this summer, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who is challenging Republican nominee J.D. Vance in the Senate race, came under fire for campaigning while casting his vote by proxy.
Earlier this year, Mark Bednar, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, told Fox News that while Democrats claim they need Pelosi’s proxy voting scheme because of the “public health emergency,” it is really just another abuse of power by the party to avoid doing their jobs and keep getting paid.
Representative Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, who was ostensibly in France with family when the House voted on the Inflation Reduction Act, is one of the politicians who have cast votes by proxy while on the road.
Representative Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin, blasted the expansion of the proxy voting rule on Friday.
Any member can vote by proxy if they send a letter to the House clerk explaining why they will be absent from the vote due to the coronavirus epidemic and naming another member to cast their ballot in their place.
In 2021, the House received more than 17,000 proxy votes, according to a report by the Ripon Society.
More than 72% of that total came from Democrats who weren’t present.