By Kristina Peterson and Natalie Andrews
WASHINGTON — Far-flung Democratic lawmakers locked down partners Tuesday ahead of the first proxy votes in congressional history, while Republicans went to court to try to stop the change.
The House is returning to Washington under a new rule that allows a lawmaker to designate a representative to cast a vote on his or her behalf while the country is gripped by the coronavirus pandemic. The change, made earlier this month, means one member in the Capitol can cast proxy votes on behalf of as many as 10 members who stayed home.
Lawmakers are set to vote this week on a bill to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which has already passed the Senate, along with a bill to change elements of the Paycheck Protection Program that was created to help small businesses during the pandemic.
But House Republicans are planning to file a lawsuit later Tuesday against Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to block the chamber’s new system, according to House GOP leadership aides.
Republicans argue proxy voting, which was passed by Democrats with no GOP support, is unconstitutional. More broadly, they say that Congress has an obligation to meet in person, despite the risks.
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