U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN-01) and his colleagues in the House Republican Doctors Caucus recently sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking her to resume “in-person legislative business.”
Dr. Roe said in a statement that the House has the resources available to “resume committee meetings, in-person debate and voting.” The House has been working remotely since late April and recently approved a plan allowing for proxy voting, meaning members can designate a colleague to vote in their place if they can’t return.
Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell feuded last week over the legitimacy of the vote by proxy rule after the Kentucky Republican suggested the Senate could refuse to take up legislation passed under the procedure. House Republicans are reportedly considering a legal challenge to the rule.
“Remote voting by proxy is fully consistent with the Constitution and more than a century of legal precedent, including Supreme Court cases, that make clear that the House can determine its own rules,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Leader McConnell’s comments are deliberately misleading, as proxy voting has long been used by Senate committees. Simply and sadly, he is trying to find every excuse not to meet the needs of the American people.”
An Associated Press report claimed the Capitol physician has privately warned lawmakers that it could be a year before Congress can return to work. But Roe and his colleagues said “there is no reason the House [should] continue to work remotely.”
“We look around the country and see the efforts of people in so many professions. Agricultural workers are ensuring we have an adequate food supply. Health care providers are providing critically-needed care. Sanitation workers are picking up trash. Delivery workers are enabling millions of Americans to stay at home. Public safety officials are working hard to ensure our communities are safe. Congress is essential to our country, just like these professionals,” said the letter.
“Caution can and should be taken; however, returning to work in person is both possible and prudent at this time,” it concluded. “If essential workers across the country are expected to work during this pandemic, the House certainly should be expected to uphold its constitutional duty of considering legislation.”
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