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house Bill H. Res. 965

Temporarily Changing House Rules to Allow Remote Proxy Voting & Hold Remote Committee Hearings

Argument in favor

The House needs temporary flexibility from its current rules to allow members to vote & committees to conduct their business safely during the coronavirus pandemic. This resolution allows lawmakers to vote remotely by proxy, committees to hold remote hearings, and clears the way for a potential secure technological means for members to vote remotely.

burrkitty's Opinion
···
05/15/2020
This should have already happened. Like a decade ago. There is no need to physically be in DC. It is only custom and habit. DC is a terrible echo chamber that isolates our federal officials from their primary responsibilities. Representing their states constituents. Get your butts back home.
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Leslie's Opinion
···
05/15/2020
If gatherings larger than 10 people are currently not allowed in DC, and the nation’s business needs to be managed during this crisis there is no other option but remote, especially since many lawmakers are older and more than likely have underlying health conditions. It also has the benefit of keeping lawmakers in touch with constituents during rapidly changing state & local covid-19 conditions and regulations.
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Austin's Opinion
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05/15/2020
Best way to ensure safe yet continuous goverment
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Argument opposed

The House of Representatives has already changed its procedures in terms of voting and committee hearings to allow members to socially distance during the pandemic while still accomplishing their work. There’s no reason to allow proxy voting. Members of Congress shouldn’t consider themselves above showing up in person to do “essential” work.

ManfromNebraska's Opinion
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05/15/2020
Congress should vote in person and social distance just like the rest of us. Lead by example and let’s get back to work! Congress should investigate the falsification of documents fomented to get more money from the government. Doctors and medical staff are being told to call any death a covid death. Those who falsify documents should be prosecuted. If hospitals are forcing their staff to lie they should be severely punished. If this is coming from government officials they should be prosecuted.
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RAN's Opinion
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05/15/2020
Get your asses to work cowards! No remote voting no remote hearings!
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Caren's Opinion
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05/15/2020
NO TO MAIL IN VOTING WHERE VOTES CAN BE LOST, MANIPULATED, AND STOLEN. If we can stand in lines at Walmart, the grocery store, and at other places practicing social distancing then we can do so voting at the polls. It might be necessary for voting to start earlier. Anyone found tampering with votes should be severely punished, heavily fined, and spend a number of years in prison. Of course if the country separated we wouldn’t have this problem. IF WE ARE FORCED TO VOTE BY MAIL I WILL MAKE COPIES AND SEND ONE TO THE WHITE HOUSE TO BE VERIFIED IN AN ATTEMPT FOR MY VOTE TO NOT BE STOLEN. PHOTO IDS SHOULD BE MANDATORY!
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What is House Bill H. Res. 965?

This resolution would change the rules of the House of Representatives until 45 days after the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency ends to allow members to cast their vote remotely by proxy and committees to conduct hearings remotely. It would also allow members to cast their vote remotely using technology if a determination is made that the technology is operable and secure.

Remote voting by proxy would be permitted on the House floor during the public health emergency, and all members voting remotely would be counted toward a quorum. Members would be required to send a letter to the House Clerk to designate a proxy, and proxies could be empowered to vote on any vote before the House whether its procedural, on an amendment, or final passage. Members voting remotely would be given 24-hours notice before any final passage vote to ensure that they can secure a proxy if they haven’t yet designated one. 

Proxies would have to receive exact written instruction from the member voting by proxy for each vote and would be required to follow that instruction precisely. Members couldn’t serve as a proxy for more than ten members. For the purpose of transparency, a list of designated proxies would be posted on the House Clerk’s website and a list of members voting remotely would be printed in the Congressional Record following each vote. Additionally, members’ votes will be read aloud during the vote.

Committees would be authorized to hold virtual hearings, markups, and depositions so that members can carry out oversight, fact-finding, and prepare legislation for the floor. Committee chairs could choose to hold entirely virtual hearings with members participating from any location, or they can hold proceedings in a hearing room with some members participating remotely. Members participating remotely would count towards a quorum and be able to vote. Committees would be required to use technology approved by the House Administration Committee for remote participation.

The House Administration Committee would be directed to study the feasibility of using technology to vote remotely in the House and certify that there is an operable and secure technology for remote voting. After the certification, the Rules Committee would be directed to issue regulations on the implementation of remote voting. The House Speaker would then be authorized to notify the House that members could cast votes remotely during the public health emergency.

Impact

Members of the House of Representatives.

Cost of House Bill H. Res. 965

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthHouse Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) released the following statement on the introduction of this resolution:

“Members on both sides of the aisle have urged we act to ensure the House can continue legislating during this pandemic. Rather than moving forward with a Democratic proposal, we formed this task force to give bipartisan compromise another chance. While we could not come to an agreement, we have incorporated several Republican ideas into this resolution. We will now move forward on these temporary emergency procedures to ensure the House can continue fully working for the people during this public health and economic emergency. The time has come to act -- further delay is not an option.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Rules Committee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK), and House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) released a statement opposing Democrats’ plan to change the House rules:

“Across our nation, Americans of all stripes are making sacrifices and doing their part to defeat this virus -- and they expect Washington to do the same. Unfortunately, far from being ‘captains of this ship’ as Speaker Pelosi recently proclaimed, the Democrats’ proposal calls for the House of Representatives to abandon ship -- potentially for the remainder of the session. As we have said from the start, any change to centuries-old rules of the House should only be done in a bipartisan way that achieves consensus. This proposal fails that critical test and would forever alter our democratic institution for the worse. It creates a dangerous new definition of ‘voting by proxy’ that runs counter to past House committee precedent, current Senate committee practice, and the Constitution. It facilitates only legislative theater while enabling the most significant power grab in the history of Congress, leaving our constituents’ voices shut out of the real lawmaking process. And it disregards rights of the minority at all levels, a failure of leadership that will have lasting consequences for our institution beyond the current pandemic. Republicans have put forward a detailed plan to ensure the People’s House can perform its vital functions during this time in a safe and effective manner. We call on Democrats to do the same and drop this ill-conceived member management exercise masquerading as reform.”

McCarthy offered a plan of his own to reopen the House of Representatives amid the pandemic that revolved around four strategies:

  • Modify Existing Practices & Structures: Noting that Democrats have agreed that the best option is to use existing rules & practices, McCarthy suggests continuing social distancing in committee hearings and during floor votes. He adds that House offices should be reassessed for provisional occupancy levels to maximize physical distancing, and that things like plexiglass dividers could be installed in highly-trafficked areas.

  • Phased Return for Committees: McCarthy suggests that committees outline their business meetings for the next month with estimated attendance levels for the majority leader, so that leadership can create a staggered calendar that allows for the rotational use of larger committee hearing rooms when necessary. He recommends prioritizing high-priority legislation that has bipartisan & bicameral appeal, like the annual defense authorization bill, the biannual water resources development bill, and FY2021 appropriations. Floor votes could be delayed and queued up for the end of the week.

  • Deploy Technology in a “Crawl, Walk, Run” Pattern: Rather than immediately instituting sweeping changes to the precedents the House uses to conduct business, hybrid hearings with some limited in-person attendance and remote attendance for others who fall into at-risk categories should be pursued. Committees with sensitive & classified workloads, like Ethics & Intelligence, would still meet in-person.

  • Accelerate Active Risk Mitigation: This is already underway thanks to the House’s Attending Physician & House Administration Committee, as member offices have received Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, hand sanitizing stations installed around the Capitol & House floor, and in-person staffing limited. McCarthy recommends screening procedures through at-home or self-reported monitoring, temperature checks at entry points, or a combination of all.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: House Speaker via Wikimedia / Public Domain)

AKA

Authorizing remote voting by proxy in the House of Representatives and providing for official remote committee proceedings during a public health emergency due to a novel coronavirus, and for other purposes.

Official Title

Authorizing remote voting by proxy in the House of Representatives and providing for official remote committee proceedings during a public health emergency due to a novel coronavirus, and for other purposes.

simple resolution Progress


  • The house Passed May 15th, 2020
    Roll Call Vote 217 Yea / 189 Nay
    IntroducedMay 13th, 2020

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    This should have already happened. Like a decade ago. There is no need to physically be in DC. It is only custom and habit. DC is a terrible echo chamber that isolates our federal officials from their primary responsibilities. Representing their states constituents. Get your butts back home.
    Like (146)
    Follow
    Share
    Congress should vote in person and social distance just like the rest of us. Lead by example and let’s get back to work! Congress should investigate the falsification of documents fomented to get more money from the government. Doctors and medical staff are being told to call any death a covid death. Those who falsify documents should be prosecuted. If hospitals are forcing their staff to lie they should be severely punished. If this is coming from government officials they should be prosecuted.
    Like (72)
    Follow
    Share
    If gatherings larger than 10 people are currently not allowed in DC, and the nation’s business needs to be managed during this crisis there is no other option but remote, especially since many lawmakers are older and more than likely have underlying health conditions. It also has the benefit of keeping lawmakers in touch with constituents during rapidly changing state & local covid-19 conditions and regulations.
    Like (86)
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    Just do it.
    Like (57)
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    Best way to ensure safe yet continuous goverment
    Like (48)
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    Get your asses to work cowards! No remote voting no remote hearings!
    Like (34)
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    NO TO MAIL IN VOTING WHERE VOTES CAN BE LOST, MANIPULATED, AND STOLEN. If we can stand in lines at Walmart, the grocery store, and at other places practicing social distancing then we can do so voting at the polls. It might be necessary for voting to start earlier. Anyone found tampering with votes should be severely punished, heavily fined, and spend a number of years in prison. Of course if the country separated we wouldn’t have this problem. IF WE ARE FORCED TO VOTE BY MAIL I WILL MAKE COPIES AND SEND ONE TO THE WHITE HOUSE TO BE VERIFIED IN AN ATTEMPT FOR MY VOTE TO NOT BE STOLEN. PHOTO IDS SHOULD BE MANDATORY!
    Like (33)
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    Be safe and lead by example.
    Like (29)
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    Allow remote voting! Democracy matters!
    Like (29)
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    I said something similar before but this is the 21st century and we have the resources to do this safely and effectively. I heard some republican representatives arguing that the American people deserve more than proxies when it comes to matters of legislation, which made me laugh because representatives are literally proxies for the American people. This doesn’t change the fact that we are sending people to represent us for these discussions, it just allows those discussions to take place on a different platform that makes more sense during a global pandemic.
    Like (22)
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    This is a great way to continue to work for the country and not put any of the members at risk. Course all the work the House has done is not being looked at or voted on at all in the senate because Moscow Mitch is still stuffing the courts with unqualified ignorant judges rather than doing his real job.
    Like (21)
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    The House and the Senate should change permanently to the realities of the twenty-first century. I remember when John McCain traveled all the way from Arizona to Washington to cast his thumbs-down deciding vote. He should've been allowed to do that remotely.
    Like (19)
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    Yes, this needs to happen. Should have happened years ago. We are no longer in the 18th century although some legislators wish we were.
    Like (18)
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    “Essential Americans are working are you telling us you are not essential?Get to work for America!!!Open up America!!!
    Like (18)
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    Yes, this ruling to work remotely should have been one of the very first things Congress did to address the pandemic! It’s May 15! Chop chop!
    Like (18)
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    Our elected officials need to be at there jobs in Washington just like all essential workers. While we are at it, why not make "them" have the same Social Security pension and Medicare just like the rest of us. Working from home should not be an option for elected officials to be further alienated from their constituents. I have been to D.C. 10 times for 10-day visits. I love to attend political meetings. I don't know if the public can do that anymore. I would gladly attend this year's legislative sessions and watch the SCOTUS.
    Like (15)
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    I don’t know how anybody else feels but if I was any more sick of Lindsey Graham and I am I’ll be on my hands and knees vomiting. I don’t know what happened to that guy but he’s become a real psychopath.
    Like (12)
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    Get back to work we hired you to do a job now do it.
    Like (11)
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    Yes. This is the responsible thing to do.
    Like (11)
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    Unfortunately, John (to answer your question.....What happened to Lindsey Graham?)....I think he was always this way and we just didn't see it.....He's a "bitch" who aligns himself with the person he perceives to be the strongest.....It used to be a GOOD man, Sen. John McCain. Now, since Graham has NO moral compass it's Trump. I really think it is that simple.
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