- - Thursday, May 21, 2020

Last week in Washington, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats sent you a message.

The Democratic majority in the House carried out what amounts to a coup against representative government by allowing proxy voting, that is, allowing elected members of Congress to give their most important votes away to other members to vote for them. Welcome to the Democratic vision for governing America.

Proxy voting in committee was standard practice for Democrats in the House of Representatives before Speaker Newt Gingrich ended it in 1994, and it is currently permitted in the Senate. But this rule extends the practice beyond committee votes to votes on the floor of the House. This means some members will rarely, if ever, have to be physically present at their committee hearings or on the floor to vote, thus leaving their constituents without full representation.

Despite the health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, physical presence is essential to effective representation. We should accommodate members whose health does not allow them to travel, but as long as we have a quorum, we should not shut down Congress.

Personal interaction among members is critical to the exchange of ideas and information that, even in this highly partisan political climate, results in the compromises needed to serve the American people. Mrs. Pelosi’s new rules flatly ignore the reality that Congress is made up of a multitude of relationships developed over time among members that allows a civil and productive exchange of views. The impersonal nature of virtual communication makes it an unsuitable method for finding the best solutions for addressing this national crisis or those we will face in the future.



By instituting this power grab, Mrs. Pelosi will now be able to avoid calling Congress into session. She exercises control over Congress from California without having to go through the committee process or include Republicans. She will tell us what we’re allowed to vote on rather than allowing the legislative process to work.

What this rule change does is consolidate power into the hands of Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic cabal. For all intents and purposes, Mrs. Pelosi is no longer the Speaker of the House, but the Supreme Leader of the House. She decides who has power in the House, because she decides who chairs the committees. Until last week, we operated under the premise that the House of Representatives is the People’s House. Last week, it took a big step toward becoming Mrs. Pelosi’s House.

If you need proof, just look at what happened with the so-called HEROES Act.

Mrs. Pelosi reconvened Congress last week so that the Democrats could pass an extreme leftist, socialist bill that has zero chance of passing in the Senate. This bill was a liberal wish list and not a serious attempt to help our nation through the COVID-19 crisis or to help our economy. This was nothing more than a political messaging bill to American voters that this is what we can expect if the Democrats control the House, Senate and the White House.

The Democrats’ message is that they will make unemployment more desirable than work, that businesses will face crippling lawsuits over the COVID-19 virus by employees and customers, that they will shackle the economy so that wages stagnate and incomes decline, that they will control your health care decisions, and that they load up future generations with insurmountable debt that will undermine our national security. They have also made clear that you and your family will be so dependent on the government they will never be voted out of power.

It always comes down to power and who has it, and considering the heavy-handed way that so many governors and mayors have handled the COVID-19 crisis, you have a good idea of what life would be like if Democrats hold all the power. They can take away your job, destroy your business, shut your church and deny you your independence.

Mrs. Pelosi knew there was no chance this bill would pass in the Senate. She just wanted to use it to send us a message about the Democrats’ agenda. I hope everyone fully understands the message, because the next few weeks and months will test our resolve to not let government dependency and debt endanger our nation’s future.

• Gary Palmer, a Republican, represents Alabama’s 6th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.

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