House Considering New Voting Procedures As Coronavirus Strikes Capitol Hill
WASHINGTON – The House appears close to adopting new voting procedures on bills in the wake of two members testing positive for the coronavirus this week.
Though the situation is evolving rapidly, as of Thursday afternoon, House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern was preparing a report on the House rules concerning member voting.
In addition, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chair of the Committee on House Administration, was putting the final touches on a memo on additional resources for tele-conferencing.
Both actions came at the direction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who during a conference call with members, invited them to submit comments.
Separately, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told his fellow Democrats that changes to the House schedule are coming.
“I share the concerns of many members regarding the number of members on the House floor at any one time,” Hoyer wrote in a letter to his fellow Democrats. “I therefore expect that the House will adjust our voting procedures in order to follow the CDC’s recommendations.”
Under normal voting procedures, all 435 House members are called to the floor to vote at the same time.
Members who were on the call said a number of alternatives are being considered, including having lawmakers vote in 30-member groupings.
Other suggestions included calling members alphabetically by name, alphabetically by name within a state, by random computerized sorting, by the year they were first elected to Congress, by committees.
Someone even suggested they be allowed to vote on a first-come, first serve basis.
Though the specifics remain to be worked out, Hoyer said the House won’t reconvene until a third emergency relief package, currently being drafted by Senate Republicans, has cleared the upper chamber and is ready for a House vote.
The timing of the Senate action is also unclear at this point, but Pelosi said during her conference call that it could be early next week.
The flurry of activity comes after two members of the House — Reps. Ben McAdams, D-Utah, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. — announced they have contracted the virus.
Since then, a number of their colleagues have announced self-quarantines as a precautionary measure.
It also comes amidst growing pressure from some lawmakers who want the House to adopt a system of remote voting.
Among them is Rep. Francis Rooney, a Florida Republican, who said Thursday, “We are in a serious, global pandemic and Congress should utilize modern technology to permit remote voting.
“Votes on spending and response to the pandemic are critical and will need quick action. Remote voting is the way to effectuate social distancing and follow proper health procedures. The technology exists. Estonia has used it for years,” he said.
“This remote vote capability is even more necessary now that there are two Representatives that have tested positive for the virus. The work of Congress must continue, but it need not put people at risk unnecessarily,” Rooney said.
In The News
WASHINGTON — Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott want to make sure there is plenty of time for wasting away again in Margaritaville in the sunlight this winter. If they get their way, revelers in Key West, Florida, where Jimmy Buffett and the Coral... Read More
WASHINGTON - Tom Wickham is stepping down as parliamentarian of the House of Representatives at the end of the month, and will be replaced by Jason Smith, his current deputy parliamentarian. In announcing the change, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., described Wickham, who is only the... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Congress discussed proposals Wednesday to switch the United States to 100% clean energy as Western governors confronting out-of-control wildfires demand action on global warming. A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee is trying to figure out a way to recover jobs lost during the coronavirus... Read More
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation that would authorize the president to posthumously award U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe the Medal of Honor. Cashe was injured in October 2005 while deployed in Iraq when the Bradley Fighting Vehicle he was in... Read More
WASHINGTON - The House passed the Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act (EIEA), legislation on Wednesday that will restore students’ and parents’ right to hold schools accountable for racial discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EIEA was brought to the House... Read More
WASHINGTON - Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y., served as moderator last week at a Blue Dog Coalition forum exploring the issue of mental health and addiction in the U.S. and how to deal with it. Brindisi, the coalition's co-chair, has been an advocate for better access to... Read More