Two House Republicans have teamed up to introduce a bill that would cut lawmakers’ annual office budgets if they opt to vote by proxy during the coronavirus pandemic instead of voting in person, The Hill reports.
Reps. Mike Johnson, R-La., and Debbie Lesko R-Ariz., proposed the bill on Thursday.
It allows the House Administration Committee to reduce a lawmaker’s annual Member Representational Allowance (MRA) by the amount that they would have spent if they traveled to Washington D.C. to vote in person.
In May, House Democrats approved a rule that would allow lawmakers to vote and conduct committee meetings remotely during the coronavirus outbreak for 45 days. The rule change also allows lawmakers who are at the Capitol to vote on behalf of lawmakers who are at home.
House Republicans filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the proxy voting system.
“We’ve challenged their rule in court, but as long as it is in place, it stands to reason that if any member chooses not to travel to D.C. to vote, his or her taxpayer-funded travel allowance should be deducted by the amount that would have been spent on that trip,” Johnson said in a statement introducing the bill.
Lesko added, “If members are not going to travel for votes and instead rely on proxy voting, they should be required to give the money allocated for travel back to the Treasury. It’s only fair.”
MRAs vary depending on where lawmakers are traveling from. Mileage allowances are based on the distance between a lawmaker’s district and Washington D.C. MRAs can be used to pay for official travel expenses.
This isn’t the first attempt to take MRA money away from lawmakers choosing to stay at home. Lesko previously proposed deducting lawmakers’ MRAs if they vote by proxy or attend a proceeding remotely last month, but her proposal was rejected.