Politics

Republicans cast doubt on future of U.S. House bills passed by proxy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans warned on Wednesday that legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives during the coronavirus pandemic may not become law if lawmakers are allowed to cast their votes remotely under a new voting system.

A day after filing a federal lawsuit to overturn rules allowing proxy voting, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said any bills approved under the new system may be unconstitutional and could be ignored by the Republican-led U.S. Senate.

“It’s playing a baseball game under protest. At the end of the game, we’ll figure out who’s right,” McCarthy told reporters at a press conference. “Whatever the Democrats move forward probably will never … become law.”

For a bill to become law, it must pass the House and Senate and be signed by the president.

McCarthy spoke hours before the first-ever proxy vote, which allows some lawmakers to vote on behalf of colleagues who are absent. The Democratic majority, which approved proxy voting on May 15 in a party-line vote, say the change will allow the House to function while observing social distancing guidelines.

In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, more than 20 Republican lawmakers and their constituents argued the change is unconstitutional and diminishes their voting power.

McCarthy said that 71 House Democrats had asked for their votes to be cast by another lawmaker as of Wednesday morning.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is named as a defendant, dismissed the lawsuit, saying in a statement that Republicans were trying to “delay and obstruct urgently needed action.”

Also named as defendants are the House clerk and sergeant-at-arms.

The suit is also part of a Republican strategy to reinforce President Donald Trump’s push to fully reopen the U.S. economy, while accusing Democrats of trying to gain political advantage.

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