“Although the Constitution allows Congress to write its own rules, those rules cannot violate the Constitution itself, including the requirement to actually assemble in person,” McCarthy said. “Since its adoption 14 months ago, proxy voting has shattered 231 years of legislative precedent and shielded the majority from substantive policy debates and questions, effectively silencing the voices of millions of Americans."
Left unmentioned was that lawmakers from both parties, including nearly 100 GOP members of the House, have since taken advantage of the ability to cast votes remotely — and not always for reasons directly related to covid.
In February, several Republican lawmakers skipped House floor votes, instead asking proxies to vote on their behalf, citing the “ongoing public health emergency” in proxy letters filed with the House clerk. However, those members of Congress were actually spotted at or expected to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who opposed the vote to allow proxy voting in the House, defended his designation of a proxy for the week of CPAC.
“I am O.G. pro-remote voting,” Gaetz said then. “I wrote an essay in the Washington Examiner about it. Remote voting is a great thing for the country, and we should do it more.”
That same week, many Democrats also cited “the ongoing public health emergency” to vote by proxy, including several members of the Texas delegation who were in Houston with President Biden to tour a mass vaccination facility.
Other Republican lawmakers who have voted by proxy include Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who holds the No. 3 spot in GOP leadership.
Representatives for McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond Thursday to requests for comment about Republicans’ use of proxy voting or to questions about whether the GOP leader has advised Republican caucus members to stop voting by proxy.
Soon after the House adopted the new proxy voting protocols, McCarthy and House Republicans filed a lawsuit to try to block it. Their lawsuit was dismissed by a lower court, and the dismissal was upheld by a D.C. Circuit panel in July.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court — which stopped conducting in-person hearings last March — announced this week it would resume in-person hearings but keep the buildings closed to the public.
David Weigel contributed to this report.