Hoyer and McCarthy issue dueling letters on online work and reopening Congress

Yesterday, Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D, MD) released a letter advocating remote voting and deliberations. He wrote:

“Beyond implementing the proxy voting as a first step, we ought to use this time as an opportunity to prepare for Congress to be able to work according to its full capabilities even with social and physical distancing guidelines in place. As you know, I have already indicated my clear preference for voting by the use of video-conferencing technology that millions of Americans now use to conduct business.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R, CA) issued his own April 21 letter in response, which posed questions toward Hoyer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D, CA).

“How many hours of advanced notice will be given to guarantee members have sufficient time to be present for any recorded votes in the House? It has been reported that Chairman McGovern is recommending a House rules change to allow for “voting by proxy” during this period. What are the details of this proposal, how will it avoid potential abuses of power, and when do you expect this proposal to be made public for the necessary scrutiny and member input that changing 200 years of House precedent would merit?”

Congress already faced a shortened calendar this year due to the autumn elections. The coronavirus pandemic has further shortened the legislative session, and Congress faces a large list of to-do’s to complete before autumn, including overseeing $2+ trillion in CARES Act outlays and completing annual appropriations.

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