This will not go over well with Republicans.
As mask-mandates evaporate and the Capitol considers plans to reopen the building to the public, House members debate about if proxy voting should be maintained in some form.
While employers across the country are ending or limiting remote working for their employees, lawmakers are beginning to wonder how much flexibility should remain in their workplace.
Proxy voting has taken center stage in this discussion.
Lawmakers are looking to introduce permanent proxy voting, which remains until the end of March, enabling them to cast votes on behalf of their constituents without being present in the House.
Although both parties agree that in-person voting and committee meetings are essential to building relationships that simplify the legislation process, Democrats say proxy voting has some utility in a post-pandemic era.
Initially enacted by House Democrats in May 2020, proxy voting ensures lawmakers who are sick or quarantining can still vote.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is one proponent. Speaking at a Rules Committee on Thursday (March 17), Hoyer said he sees “a number of cases in which it may be appropriate to continue having it as an option,” stressing that it would only be an option and not a preference or practice.
He listed scenarios where proxy voting could come in handy, including “when members may be ill, have to care for a sick loved one, or welcome a new child.”
Whether Republicans will support the decision to introduce permanent proxy voting is anyone’s guess.
Back in 2020, when proxy voting was first established, every Republican present voted against establishing it. Many went on to sign a lawsuit led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA.) that challenged its constitutionality.
However, since then, plenty of Republicans have embraced its utility, casting proxy votes when they had contracted COVID-19 or out of sheer convenience, like when several attended CPAC last year.
Those in McCarthy’s leadership team have also voted by proxy, including National Republican Committee Chairman Tom Emmer of Minnesota and Chairwoman of the House GOP Conference, Elise Stefanik.
But McCarthy remains unconvinced of the benefits, arguing that if Republicans regain the House in the midterms, they’d eliminate proxy voting.