In response to President Joe Biden’s assertion that the COVID-19 pandemic is gone, Republican Representative Greg Pence of Indiana is pleading with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to abolish the requirement for proxy voting.
Proxy voting was instituted by Democratic House leadership in March 2020, with the justification that doing so would encourage social isolation and impede the development of COVID-19. However, despite signing affidavits stating that they are unable to vote due to the “ongoing public health emergency,” many members have exploited proxy voting to attend fundraising or media events. Pence is pleading with Pelosi to do away with the practice in light of Biden’s assertion that the pandemic is “finished” in a Sunday 60 Minutes interview.
“Over the course of the 115 Congress sessions, this body met in the midst of war, epidemics, and national emergencies alike to carry out our statutory obligations. Essential employees, blue-collar workers, first responders, the restaurant and food industries, and countless others have reported to work every day in order to do their jobs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic approximately two and a half years ago,” Pence wrote to Pelosi in a letter on Tuesday that was obtained solely by the Daily Caller.
In January, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy filed a lawsuit challenging the use of proxy voting, but the Supreme Court declined to take it up. Despite the end of the mask requirement at the Capitol in February and the removal of the requirement for masks on trains and airlines, members have continued to employ the method. Prior to the Aug. 12 Inflation Reduction Act vote, more than 180 legislators submitted proxy letters to the House clerk.
Pence advised members to stay at home if they are ill, but he added that if they are not physically present in the Capitol, they shouldn’t be permitted to cast a vote. He said that after having heart surgery in June, he did not utilize a proxy.
“I arrived by myself, went to committee hearings and markups, and I never voted by proxy. Due to a health issue, I missed a week of voting.” In an interview, he stated, “I think the American people realize that you can’t go to work when you’re unwell. Staying at home would be the wisest course of action if you were exposed to COVID-19.”
In order to campaign and generate money, a number of candidates for higher office have employed proxy voting. Democratic nominee for the Senate from Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan, cast 24 votes via proxy in one day while participating in campaign activities, while Democratic nominee for the Senate from Hawaii, Rep. Kai Kahele, was spotted at a marijuana shop with a proxy letter open.