The House of Representatives is known as the “People’s House,” because Representatives are directly elected by the American people and reflect their interests and ideas. Just as businesses, schools and institutions familiar to us have had to shut down or modify their actions in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Congress has also had to make some adjustments and do much of our work remotely.
These are extraordinary times, but our country is no stranger to emerging stronger from times of crisis. Over the last 230 years, the People’s House has never shied away from fulfilling its constitutional duty of physically meeting in our nation’s capital to represent the American people. Even throughout the Civil War, the Spanish Flu of 1918, and the September 11th terrorist attacks, Members of Congress have always showed up, never once resorting to voting by proxy.
Unfortunately, last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats decided to abandon that tradition of perseverance and leadership by changing the rules to allow voting by proxy on the floor of the House, for the first time ever. This plan is an unconstitutional move that chips away at the rights of the House’s Minority party, as well as Congress’ duty to act as a voice for the American people.
The U.S. Constitution clearly states that a majority of Representatives must be physically present for the House to conduct business. Under the House Rule adopted by Speaker Pelosi last week, House Democrats would need only a small fraction of Members present in the House Chamber to pass legislation, allowing for a select few to decide the work of the House — essentially hijacking the voice of the American people. Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats’ actions have historic consequences for Congress’ role in fairly representing all Americans, just like you and your neighbors in Texas 12. The House Republicans’ lawsuit challenging this power grab aims to bring Congress back to business the way our country’s founders envisioned and to restore the people’s voice.
Across America, despite the coronavirus pandemic’s persistence, our essential workers are assuming personal risk and responsibility to show up for our communities. As our country gradually re-opens in keeping with health guidelines, Congress should also conduct its business safely and strategically. Speaker Pelosi’s unconstitutional scheme to allow proxy voting and erode the rights of the House’s Minority party is not the right plan for the People’s House.
Member of Congress