Monday, July 27, 2020

If Members Of Congress Don’t Want To Do Their Job In Person, They Should Resign

We should not allow those who want permanent power in Congress to exploit a crisis to redefine representation. Proxy remote voting is a travesty.
In an outrageous letter, two anti-Trump organizations have written the Administration Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives advocating that lawmakers should be able to vote without attending congressional sessions.
In their defense of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s power grab, the organizations, Demand Progress and the Lincoln Network, justify past corruption and advocate for institutionalizing a legislative practice that is an affront to the whole process of representative government. In doing so, they place the blame for current congressional dysfunction on the 1994 Republican Revolution using a collection of liberal mischaracterizations from the past quarter-century.
What the American people confer on their representatives is a vote. Each vote represents the sacred trust that the lawmaker will use it to further the best interests of the country and constituents. Assigning that trust to someone else, even under the strictest rules, is to abrogate the basic responsibility of a legislator.
If you cannot do what you were elected to do, even in difficult situations, you have no business asking people to give you their permission to cast their vote. I have witnessed times on the House floor wherein members were brought from their hospital beds to cast a crucial vote. It is that important.
Abuse Through Proxy
In the midst of the Wuhan virus pandemic and with little public awareness, Pelosi decided House members should not be put at risk and should be able to assign their votes to another representative. That process was abused immediately as some members decided to fundraise or do other things during House sessions and let someone else cast their votes.
Such abuse is not surprising. Before committee proxy voting was ended in the 1995 reforms, committee chairmen used proxies to thwart the judgement of the people in the room who were engaged in the debate. Time after time, the votes of the people present would be counted, but the majority of those there to vote would be overturned when the chairman cast proxies.
When we did away with that process, the chairman’s job became tougher because keeping a quorum was necessary to conduct planned business. As a chairman at the time, I had a one-vote majority in my committee, so the work of keeping those members present and voting was difficult, but it was also right.
Those who now want to extend proxy voting to the full House claim our current communication tools permit distance legislating. It is true that members can participate in committee hearings from afar. It is not preferable, but it is possible. But for voting, the American people have every right to expect their representatives to be there in person.
One of the most important parts of legislating is interpersonal relationships among lawmakers. Decisions often reflect informal conversations or needed last-minute changes when someone has recognized a flaw in the bill under consideration. That input is lost when people are many miles away.
Read the rest from Bob Walker HERE.

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