House Democrats on Friday approved a historic rules changes to allow lawmakers to cast votes and conduct committee meetings remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, a move that Republicans warn could alter the nature of Congress for the first time in its 200-year history.
The vote to adopt the resolution was voted along party lines, 217-189. Three Democrats — Reps. Rick Larsen (Washington), Elaine Luria (Virginia), Tom O’Halleran (Arizona), and Independent Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan joined the Republicans to vote no.
Under the new rules, which take effect immediately, lawmakers who cannot or do want to travel to the Capitol to participate in floor votes amid of concerns about traveling in one of the nation’s hotspots, will now be able to cast votes in the House through a proxy. Absent lawmakers can authorize colleagues on their behalf with specific instructions for how they would vote on a measure, and the proxy must vote in accordance with their instructions. Those lawmakers will have to send a letter to the House clerk designating a proxy and the list of designated proxies would be publicly posted on the House clerk’s website.