House GOP Sues Nancy Pelosi over Proxy Voting Scheme

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (right), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will attend the budget meeting. | Aaron Bernstein-Pool/Getty Images
Aaron Bernstein-Pool/Getty Images

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), 20 House Republican lawmakers, and four congressional constituents on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) proxy voting scheme.

McCarthy said in a statement Tuesday that Republicans decided to file a lawsuit against Pelosi to overturn the proxy voting scheme in the House. The Republican Leader contended that the proxy voting rule violates the Constitution and serves as an enormous power grab for Pelosi and the majority party in the House.

He charged:

This week, House Democrats will break over 230 years of precedent and allow Members of Congress to vote by proxy on the House floor. This is not simply arcane parliamentary procedure. It is a brazen violation of the Constitution, a dereliction of our duty as elected officials, and would silence the American people’s voice during a crisis. Although I wish this matter could have been solved on a bipartisan basis, the stakes are too high to let this injustice go unaddressed. That is why, along with other members of the House and our constituents, I have filed a lawsuit in federal court to overturn Speaker Pelosi’s unconstitutional power grab. 

The 20 House Republican lawmakers include:

  • Chip Roy (R-TX)
  • Steve Scalise (R-LA)
  • Liz Cheney (R-WY)
  • Rodney Davis (R-IL)
  • Tom Cole (R-OK)
  • Jim Jordan (R-OH)
  • Mike Johnson (R-LA)
  • Andy Biggs (R-AZ)
  • Bradley Byrne (R-AL)
  • Russ Fulcher (R-ID)
  • Warren Davidson (R-OH)
  • Michael Cloud (R-TX
  • Mark Green (R-TN)
  • Jody Hice (R-GA)
  • Debbie Lesko (R-AZ)
  • Andy Harris (R-MD)
  • Jeff Duncan (R-SC)
  • Ron Wright (R-TX)
  • Scott Perry (R-PA)
  • Clay Higgins (R-LA)

The four constituents on the lawsuit include:

  • Clayton Cambell, a constituent of California’s 23rd congressional district.
  • Bella Rubio a constituent of Texas’ 21st congressional district.
  • Lorine Spratt, a constituent of Lousiana’s fourth congressional district.
  • Mickie Niland, a constituent of Arizona’s fifth congressional district.

McCarthy continued, suggesting that as few as 20 members of Congress could control 220 members’ vote. He said:

Ultimately, as few as 20 members could control the vote of over 220 members under this rule for the foreseeable future. That is not only irresponsible leadership, it is patently unconstitutional, as 230 years of Congressional history and Supreme Court precedent make abundantly clear.

The lawsuit argued that over the House’s 231 years in operation, the chamber has never allowed a vote by proxy. This includes the Yellow Fever of 1793, the Civil War, the Spanish Flu, and 9/11.

McCarthy and the other plaintiffs contend the Constitution clearly says that lawmakers must physically gather to vote.

McCarthy said in his statement that the proxy voting rule could allow for the majority party, or the Democrats, to diminish the voting power of the minority party. He said:

Worse, by changing the rules in a way that violates the Constitution itself, Democrats are creating a precedent for further injustice. If their changes are acceptable, what stops the majority from creating a “House Rule” that stipulates the minority party’s votes only count for half of the majority party’s? This is not the representative democracy our Founders envisioned or what our Constitution allows. It is tyranny of the majority.

The Speaker’s reckless and partisan decision to adopt proxy voting was done despite unified opposition from the minority and even members of her own party. This is a serious matter that will damage the integrity of the House’s actions now and in the future. While the Constitution allows Congress to write its own rules, those rules cannot violate the Constitution itself — namely, the requirement of actual assembly. Rapid and robust legal relief is necessary. The alternative — a small number of members dictating the businesses of the whole House while the people’s voice is diluted — is unacceptable and would only make it more difficult for Congress to respond in the national interest.

“We must assemble,” he added.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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