An additional 140 House Republicans have joined a lawsuit Friday filed earlier this week against Speaker Nancy Pelosi over new rules in the lower chamber allowing for proxy voting.
The suit was initially filed Tuesday by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy joined by 20 GOP lawmakers and four constituents on the eve of the first time members of the House have ever voted without being physically present, upending more than 200 years of precedent.
“In the 231-year existence of the United States Congress, neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate has ever permitted a member to vote by proxy from the floor of the chamber,” the lawsuit opens. “Through the Civil War; through the burning of the Capitol during the War of 1812 and the terrorist attacks on Washington on 9/11; and through the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 and the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, the Congress of the United States has never before flinched from its constitutional duty to assemble at the Nation’s Capital and conduct the People’s business in times or national peril.”
Among those joining the lawsuit that now features 161 Republican Congressman includes Shipley Swayze, a constituent of Florida Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist’s who cited the “ongoing public health emergency” as reason for his absence from Washington for Wednesday’s legislative business.
Crist however, held no such reservations in attending the NASA/SpaceX historic space launch on the same day, which was ultimately postponed to Saturday due to weather.
Looking forward to attending today’s historic manned @SpaceX launch to @Space_Station – the first from American soil since 2011 and first ever on a commercial spacecraft. Huge step for space exploration and Florida! pic.twitter.com/EHhF5U8F5M
— Rep. Charlie Crist (@RepCharlieCrist) May 27, 2020
Florida Democratic Congressman Darren Soto also disenfranchised his constituents by delegating his constitutional voting duties to another member to attend the launch.
— US Rep. Darren Soto (@RepDarrenSoto) May 27, 2020
House Republicans have also filed both temporary and permanent injunctions requesting that the D.C. Circuit Court put an immediate halt to proxy voting which has already been invoked by more than 70 Democrats this week based on the briefs filed.
“Those numbers can and will grow, while the number of members who cast votes in person shrinks,” McCarthy said in a statement Tuesday. “Ultimately, as few as 20 members could control the vote of over 220 members under this rule for the foreseeable future.”
Republicans assert that a clear and honest reading of the Constitution outlining House duties explicitly rejects the idea that, by definition, the nation’s assembly must actually assemble.