House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put off plans to allow unprecedented proxy voting on the House floor during the coronavirus outbreak after Republicans raised concerns about potential abuses.
Capitol Hill sources say that Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday announced that a bipartisan select committee now will consider the idea, scrapping a battle that was expected Thursday when lawmakers gather to pass a fourth large COVID-19 bill.
Pelosi pivoted after an hour-long call on Wednesday with Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, two sources said. McCarthy had expressed concern about “abuses of power” in allowing proxy votes for the first time. Other Republicans said it would strip responsibility from representatives.
A Democratic plan unveiled early Wednesday would have allowed lawmakers to vote for one another if they had a signed letter attesting to an agreement to do so. A House Rules Committee hearing was scheduled for Wednesday night to push throw the measure, before Pelosi changed course.
“Speaker Pelosi announced on a leadership call this morning that, following a conversation with Leader McCarthy, that she and McCarthy are tasking a bipartisan group of House lawmakers to review remote voting by proxy and reopening the House. The House will no longer consider remote voting by proxy this week,” a Democratic leadership aide told The Post.
The Democratic aide said the select committee’s members will include McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), House Rules Committee ranking member Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), House Administration Committee Chairman Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) will lead the select committee.
“The House will now consider tomorrow a resolution to create the Clyburn select committee instead of the remote voting by proxy rule change,” the Democratic aide told The Post.
A Republican aide confirmed the change of plans.
On Tuesday, Pelosi told The Post that the reform would not be in effect for the pending $484 billion bill, and is intended only for use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have to pass a rule to enable proxy voting. So PPP will be on the basis of present and voting. And then we’ll go from there. But whatever we would do on proxy voting at this time would be strictly related to the coronavirus,” Pelosi said.
She added: “The question about coming back — it’s not just about us. It’s about the staff, it’s about the traffic it’s about security. It’s about those who run the buildings that we have to look out for their well being. Because we care about them but we also care about the people they go home to.”
Last month, a report by Democrats on the House Rules Committee said proxy voting had more solid historical grounding than electronic remote voting.
“While proxy voting on the Floor would be unprecedented, there is precedent for it in House committees where the practice was in place until the 104th Congress when it was disallowed as part of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich’s slate of changes to the House rules. Proxy voting also has precedent in the Senate where it is still used in committee,” the report said.