Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) admitted on Thursday that he would rather return home to Long Island, New York, and vote by proxy after learning that he would be voting on nonconsequential votes in Congress.
Suozzi originally planned to play in D.C. on Thursday on a vote to reauthorize the FISA program; after learning that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) canceled the vote and that only procedural votes remained, he decided to travel back to his home. Suozzi said that he supports the use of proxy votes in extraordinary situations such as the coronavirus pandemic.
Suozzi granted Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) his proxy vote to extend the small business protection program and other less controversial votes.
“When I learned that the calendar today would only be suspension votes, I wanted to get home for some family obligations,” Suozzi told a local New York outlet.
“So instead of just missing the votes, which I could do that too, I decided I would just file a proxy vote,” he added.
Suozzi submitted a letter to Cheryl Johnson, the clerk of the House of Representatives, on Thursday, saying that he is “unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency.”
New York Republicans such as Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) have charged that proxy voting is unconstitutional and outrageous.
“For the 1st time ever, the House of Reps voted today by proxy. Dozens of Members gave their votes away to others who then cast multiple votes,” Zeldin wrote on Wednesday. “What happened to ‘one person, one vote’? This is absurd & unconstitutional. I wouldn’t play along & was in DC to vote IN PERSON.”
For the 1st time ever, the House of Reps voted today by proxy. Dozens of Members gave their votes away to others who then cast multiple votes. What happened to "one person, one vote"? This is absurd & unconstitutional. I wouldn't play along & was in DC to vote IN PERSON.
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) May 28, 2020
Other lawmakers have found other reasons to vote by proxy other than because of health concerns.
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL) said he was unable to vote in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, citing health concerns; however, he stated that he was excited to attend the NASA and SpaceX shuttle launch on the same day. Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) also planned to attend the space launch and voted by proxy.
House Republicans, seeing potential abuse that could arise from the proxy voting scheme, sued Pelosi to overturn the proxy voting system.
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) slammed Democrats’ proxy voting scheme during a press conference on Thursday. He emphasized that both Pelosi and House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA) said that proxy voting was for emergencies only. He said:
In coming to this proxy decision, the Speaker and Chairman McGovern gave a lot of stringent facts of how this would be used. In fact, the guidelines specifically stated that you “must be unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to ongoing health emergencies.”
The Speaker contended that voting by proxy was intended to be the last resort, an alternative to traveling to D.C. due to health concerns…
Yesterday, Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist admitted he used the proxy vote to attend a space launch in Florida — an event that’s 150 miles away from his district on the other side of the state. To get there, it took him about two and a half hours — about the same time as a flight from…Tampa to D.C. But instead of going to work and serving as a voice of his constituents, Charlie decided to play hooky.
McCarthy noted that Pelosi’s voting scheme grants her more power. Pelosi said during a conference on Wednesday that “every crisis,” including coronavirus, is an opportunity to advance Democrats’ leftist agenda.House Speaker Nancy Pelosi / Facebook
But why would they want to go against the Constitution to provide proxy? It gives the Speaker more power … The Speaker, in her own words yesterday, admitted that “the crisis is an opportunity — [that] every crisis is,” and she’s not the only one on the Democratic side that believes that …
“A pandemic is not an opportunity. A health crisis is not a free-for-all to restructure our government,” he added. “We instead should be working together to reinforce the promise and progress we are seeing take place in this country.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.