Push for remote voting grows as lawmakers fear coronavirus poised to spread

In the letter, headed by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), The Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Whose committee is examining the possibility of remote voting, is asked to allow a temporary rule change national emergency.

“Congress should not be an exception to adapting to this crisis,” the letter said. “The house must adopt remote voting to protect both public health and allow us to be the vote of our voters.”

The letter includes high-ranking Democrats such as the House Justice Chairman, Jerry Nadler (DN.Y.), the House Oversight Committee chair, Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.), and the House Budget Committee chair, John Yarmuth (D- Ky.), As well as several West Coast lawmakers such as Democratic Representatives Ro Khanna, Pete Aguilar and Barbara Lee, all from California.

Pressure is also growing in the Senate, which remains in session this week, as bipartisan negotiators are trying to get a deal worth nearly $ 2 trillion that will affect the nation’s ability to cope with the crisis in both public health and the health sector would expand the economy.

Two GOP senators publicly voted for a remote vote on Monday, the day after one of their colleagues, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Announced that he was positive for the virus.

“I’m ready to support remote voting,” Senator Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) Tweeted on Monday. “Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. It’s time to move the Senate into the 21st century. ”

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Who had previously been lukewarm about the idea of ​​electronic voting, also changed his attitude.

“We should make this change before the Senate leaves town,” Graham tweeted on Monday.

For the Republicans, the virus threat could also be a numerical problem: as of Monday, five GOP senators will no longer be able to vote in the Senate because Paul is fighting the infection and four others will quarantine themselves after a possible exposure. This further reduces margins for Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell as he tries to get a massive economic bailout through the chamber in a short amount of time.

Fear in the Capitol has increased, especially after Paul’s diagnosis on Sunday. The Kentucky senator had been in the building, attending meetings, voting on the floor, and even using the Senate gym when he was waiting for the results of his test. Paul said he had no knowledge of any particular exposure.

However, heads of state and government of the House of Representatives and the Senate have warned that one of the greatest procedural changes in Congress in history would be to allow members to vote remotely – not to mention a massive and complicated undertaking that takes time to develop would take.

Some members have also raised security concerns regarding the prospect of electronic voting, especially if the system is built within a tight timeframe with room for error.

“There is definitely a debate, certainly among the newcomers, about what is right for us. Is it for us to get on planes and vehicles and go to Washington and vote in person?” MP Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) Said in an interview on Monday. “While I think it’s interesting to think about remote voting later, I’m concerned about security.”

“Everyone is working at such a rapid pace that everything we are establishing is not being reviewed to actually do a very historic thing,” said Slotkin.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House would “adjust our voting procedures” to comply with federal health agency guidelines, which have warned against all meetings of more than 50 people. Democrats have considered keeping the vote open longer to limit the number of legislators at a given time.

For the hidden institution of Congress, this could go as far as the legislature does.

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