Distant and accounted for
The House plans to vote Wednesday on reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, inaugurating a new rule that allows members to submit their votes via congressional proxy. The proxy voting rule, approved along party lines, allows one member of Congress to vote yes, no, or present for up to 10 colleagues, and more than 50 House Democrats had registered a proxy by Tuesday night. The temporary measure allows members of Congress to avoid travel and Washington, D.C., during the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Republicans sued House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in federal court Tuesday night to block the measure, claiming it is unconstitutional because the House would be voting without a physical quorum. Pelosi said Tuesday that the rule is "fully consistent with the Constitution," arguing the House GOP's "sad stunt" is an attempt "to delay and obstruct urgently needed action to meet the needs of American workers and families during the coronavirus crisis."
"It's unlikely that Republicans will find a welcome reception from the federal courts, which are notoriously reluctant to wade into internal House machinations," Politico reports. "The House sets its own rules and procedures, and judges routinely sidestep questions about them by deferring to the internal prerogatives of the House, often citing the Constitution's language that declares that '[e]ach House may determine the rules of its proceedings.'"
After the FISA vote, which faces an uncertain future, the House plans to vote on several noncontroversial bills, including one addressing China's human rights abuse against the Uyghurs and a change to the Paycheck Protection Program that would give small businesses more time to use their coronavirus stimulus funds.