House postpones consideration of remote voting during coronavirus pandemic

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The House of Representatives has postponed a plan to consider allowing its members to vote remotely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The reversal came after Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, according to a readout of a meeting provided by Democrats.

The House will instead empower a bipartisan group to study the issue after Republicans balked at Democrats’ initial proposal, as the Hill reported.

Rep. Jim McGovern, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the House rules panel, unveiled a measure on Wednesday that would allow proxy voting. Absent House members would be permitted to designate lawmakers physically present to cast votes on their behalf, according to the proposal, which would also allow virtual committee meetings.

Many lawmakers have been reluctant to travel to Washington during the coronavirus crisis.

With Democrats in control of the House, the measure had been expected to pass Thursday. Republicans such as Rep. Tom Cole, the top GOP member on the rules committee, are opposed.

“I believe we already have existing tools to continue the people’s work without introducing brand-new, constitutionally untested processes that risk erosion of our normal practice,” Cole, of Oklahoma, said in a statement. Democrats cite legal scholars to argue proxy voting is constitutional.

House lawmakers are scheduled to vote Thursday on a nearly $500 billion bill that replenishes a small-business loan program and directs money to hospitals and coronavirus testing. The measure passed the Senate on Tuesday.

See:Senate approves deal expanding aid for small businesses, hospitals hit by coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. stocks DJIA, 1.56% traded sharply higher Wednesday for the first time in three days amid expectations Congress would pass the stimulus deal.

Originally Published on MarketWatch

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