House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Tuesday extended remote voting for House members until Sept. 26 due to the continued COVID-19 health emergency.
"In light of the attached notification by the Sergeant-at-Arms, in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician, that a public health emergency is in effect due to a novel coronavirus, I am hereby extending the 'covered period' designated on Jan. 4, 2021, pursuant to section 3(s) of House Resolution 8, until Sept. 26, 2022," Pelosi said in a letter to members Tuesday.
She referred to an Aug. 8 letter she received from the House sergent-at-arms, William Walker, notifying her that the COVID-19 health emergency was "still in effect."
The extension is the latest in several 45-day blocks approved by Pelosi to allow remote voting by that chamber's members since January 2021, when the body passed legislation accommodating the practice.
The House first voted to allow remote voting and committee proceedings during the height of the pandemic in May 2020 and has continually extended it.
The Brookings Institute reported in January that about 80% of House members had used remote voting and committee appearances through December 2021.
The practice also allows members unable to attend in person to designate other members acting as proxies to cast votes on legislation.
According to the Brookings article, the practice was "central" to keeping the House operating through the two years of the pandemic.
"Its increase in popularity suggests there may be a demand to make it permanent in some form," the report said. "But in doing so, the House will have to find a way to balance the rule’s benefits for those who need it over its risks of misuse — a tough feat at best."
While proxy and remote participation has continued, other COVID-19 mitigation measures, such as mandated mask wearing and social distancing, have ceased throughout the U.S. Capitol complex, The Hill reported.
According to the report, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will do away with the practice should Republicans take back the House in November, and he is voted in as the new speaker.
Democrats, however, may want to make the ability to use proxies and do things remotely permanently.
"I see a number of cases in which it may be appropriate to continue having it as an option — not as a preference, not as a practice — but as an option, such as when members may be ill, have to care for a sick loved one, or welcome a new child," The Hill reported that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said at a Rules Committee hearing in March.
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