The House of Representatives will vote on a resolution Friday that would allow a recess that would last until the end of July.
House Democrats have been pushing for the provision in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the globe.
Representatives will vote on allowing proxy voting, remote voting and remote committee meetings for the next 45 days, or longer if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi renews the order.
“The situation demands a whole-of-government response that matches the challenges we face,” Rules Committee Chairman Rep. Jim McGovern said during Friday’s debate.
“We must temporarily embrace technology during this unprecedented time, the same way local governments and countries around the world have, so we can continue legislating as safely as possible.”
For the period of May 19 – July 21, the measure includes a provision that allows the chair to “declare a recess subject to the call of the chair at any time to address technical difficulties with respect to such proceedings” and allows Democrats “to declare the House adjourned to meet at a date and time … announced by the Chair in declaring the adjournment.”
Under the resolution, committee proceedings — including voting to advance legislation — would be “entirely virtual.” Remote voting by proxy for House floor legislation would be permitted as well.
A House lawmaker would be able to serve as a proxy for up to 10 absent lawmakers under the new resolution.
A Democratic aide said the provision would also prevent lawmakers from calling for in-person voting during the pro forma sessions held every three days, according to the Washington Examiner.
House Republicans have opposed the measure, with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy saying that “any change to centuries-old rules of the House should only be done in a bipartisan way that achieves consensus.”
“This proposal fails that critical test and would forever alter our democratic institution for the worse,” the California Republican said.
His spokesman, Mark Bednar, added, “Even as the American people want to get back to work and for Congress to do its job in Washington, Speaker Pelosi is preparing the House for extended recess — even beyond the initial 45-day proxy voting period,” according to the Washington Examiner.
During Friday’s debate, Rep. Jim Jordan said that “the example this sends, the precedent this sets is so darn wrong.”
“The Constitution requires the presence of a majority and when that majority is present, the power of the House arises. You’ve got to be there. Actually, you’ve got to be here, you’ve got to be here to do the business of the people,” the Ohio Republican said.
All lawmakers were summoned back to the House on Friday to vote on the proxy vote resolution and the $3 trillion HEROES Act economic aid package.