new house rules
The House on Monday voted to extend remote voting during the COVID-19 pandemic. The provision was part of a set of new rules the lower chamber adopted in a 217-206 party line vote as the 117th Congress gets under way.
Before the vote, lawmakers only had "limited ability to use the changes implemented last year to accommodate attendance," including proxy voting, during the pandemic, and therefore could only cast votes if they were physically present, The Hill reports.
While the change came about quickly, the issue did cause some drama Sunday when the new session convened. Republicans were not pleased that the Capitol physician approved the installation of a Plexiglass box in the visitors' gallery, which allowed a few members (from both parties) to vote in the House speaker election despite COVID-19 exposure. The lawmakers had tested negative for the coronavirus, but were otherwise supposed to be in quarantine, prompting criticism from the GOP that an exception was made so House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could get the majority of votes she needed to retain her position. Read more about the House's new rule package at The Hill.