House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is back to her old ways and is still trying to exploit the pandemic to ensure Democrats get things they want.
During a fiery speech Thursday on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the House could face legal challenges after Pelosi and Democrats passed a plan that will allow proxy voting on legislation.
“There will be enormous constitutional questions around anything the House does if they fail to demonstrate a real quorum but plow ahead anyhow,” McConnell said.
Last week, the Democratic-controlled House passed a historic rules change allowing proxy voting for the first time in the 231-year history of the body.
McConnell slammed the unprecedented rule change and called out the House for only convening twice in eight weeks.
“While essential workers across the country continue to clock in, the Democratic House of Representatives has essentially put itself on paid leave for months,” he said.
McConnell said the rule allowing a remote quorum raises constitutional questions, an opinion that is backed up by the Congressional Research Service.
The service said proxy voting might survive legal challenges, but using proxy votes to constitute a quorum may not.
McConnell raised the same legal questions.
“The Constitution requires a physical quorum to do business,” McConnell said. “The new rule says one person may mark himself and 10 others present, even if they are nowhere in sight, a flat-out lie.”
House Democrats have been missing in action for months. They just forced through a remote voting scheme so they can continue their absence. But there’s a problem: Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution. pic.twitter.com/o3NYQJsprz
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) May 21, 2020
The rule allows each lawmaker present in the chamber to vote for up to 10 absent colleagues as long as the intentions of those voting by proxy are transmitted electronically and in writing to the House clerk and to the voting lawmaker.
Democrats made the change in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which they said makes it unsafe for 431 lawmakers to travel to Washington and gather in the Capitol.
The rule is in place for 45 days, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can unilaterally renew it for another 45 days or longer.
Republicans opposed the change and said the House can operate safely. The Senate returned to regular business in early May and has been operating under social distancing guidelines.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) sounded the alarm on the rules change, saying the move is unconstitutional and puts members who represent swing districts in a bind.
“You know, the thing is it gives Nancy Pelosi power, but imagine being a Democrat who goes back home in a swing district. You just voted to give your voting card in Congress to Nancy Pelosi, and she doesn’t represent the values of a lot of those districts. You know, you now signed on for San Francisco values, and by the way, what are you doing now? Why are you collecting a paycheck if you want Nancy Pelosi to be the one to vote for you and represent your district, and you’re representing a swing state somewhere else? And so, this could be a tough vote for those people to explain,” Scalise explained. “It’s unconstitutional, first of all, because a quorum under this resolution they just passed – 20 people on the floor – 20 Democrats can constitute a quorum of the House of Representatives, 435 people. That goes against Article One of the Constitution. They don’t seem to care about any of that, they just want to consolidate power and spend money. I mean, a drunken sailor would be offended to be compared to them and what they did with this bill. Money to illegals, taxpayer funding of abortion, this is crazy.”
Scalise believes the House should be in session and working on behalf of the American people, just as the Senate is doing.
Out of the 435 members in the House, the minority whip said about 24 people were unable to be in attendance.