The House of Representatives made an unprecedented move as it will temporarily allow proxy voting and remote hearings as the nation combats the coronavirus outbreak.
With a 217 to 189 vote, largely along party lines, the House approved the proposal on Friday. This will allow one lawmaker to vote by proxy on the behalf of up to 10 others who are not able to travel to Washington, D.C., as NPR notes.
Rep. Jim McGovern, the Rules Committee chairman, (D-Mass.) said on the House floor on Friday that the suggestion for changes was not taken “lightly,” as he noted, “I still believe that we do our best work in person and side by side.”
“But we must temporarily embrace technology during this unprecedented time,” he added.
The move was not met with a warm welcome by all, as Republicans pushed back on the unprecedented move.
“The vote Friday night was not only unprecedented in our nation’s history – it was completely unwarranted,” he wrote.
Additionally, ahead of Friday’s vote, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on the House floor, “We can continue to work in a safe and effective manner without overturning 230 years of constitutional and legislative tradition.”
The proposal will expire at the end of this session. It also needs to be renewed every 45 days. It is the first time the House has allowed voting by proxy on the House floor — though it was previously allowed at the committee level until 1995, as ABC News notes.
On Friday, the House also passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package by a vote of 208-199, as IJR reported.
The bill includes $500 billion for state governments, as well as another round of stimulus checks for individuals and families.
However, President Donald Trump has said he would veto it should it make it to his desk.