April 27, 2020

New Democrat Coalition Urges House Leadership and Committee Chairs to Implement Remote Voting and Virtual Proceedings

Washington, DC – Yesterday, New Democrat Coalition (NDC) Leadership Members, led by NDC Chair Derek Kilmer (WA-06), sent a letter to House Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, House Rules Committee Chairman McGovern, and House Administration Committee Chairperson Lofgren urging for the implementation of remote voting by proxy and the authorization of virtual committee hearings no later than the week of May 4.

The letter reads:

Members of the New Democrat Coalition strongly support the House of Representatives and Committees returning to regular order through a remote or virtual means as soon as possible and until public health officials provide guidance that it would be safe for all Members and staff to physically return to the House full time.

“While we hope a bipartisan agreement with Republican Leadership that results in temporary remote capabilities on the floor and in committees can be reached in the coming days, if House Republican leadership does not engage on this matter in a constructive way, we must move forward. Therefore, we urge you to commit to bringing a resolution that allows for remote voting and virtual committee proceedings to the floor no later than the week of May 4.”

The NDC has been working to promote innovative and bold solutions to end the pandemic and provide direct economic support to individuals, communities, health care providers, workers, and businesses. Earlier this month, NDC Leadership Members sent a letter to House Democratic Leadership and Chairs of the Standing House Committees urging Leadership and Committee Chairs to return to regular order, despite the challenges of remote work, by utilizing the technology necessary for virtual legislative hearings and meetings.  

Read the full letter here or below:

 

April 26, 2020

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Chairman McGovern, and Chairperson Lofgren:

Members of the New Democrat Coalition strongly support the House of Representatives and Committees returning to regular order through a remote or virtual means as soon as possible and until public health officials provide guidance that it would be safe for all Members and staff to physically return to the House full time. Toward that end, we were prepared to vote for Chairman McGovern’s resolution to implement remote voting by proxy and to authorize virtual committee proceedings as an interim step this week, and were disappointed that we adjourned without taking action on that critical proposal.

We understand your decision to postpone the vote on remote voting and Committee proceedings in order to pursue bipartisan discussions with your Republican counterparts, and we are hopeful those discussions will quickly lead to a bipartisan agreement. We acknowledge that changing the House Rules is not easy, but it is crucial in these circumstances. Organizations across the country have learned to communicate and make decisions remotely, in part because we as policymakers have encouraged them to. As we urge the public to observe social distancing practices, comply with shelter-in-place orders, and telework as much as possible, Congress must itself adapt to the public health threat our nation faces. 

For the last several weeks, Members have been working hard to advance the interests and needs of our constituents from our districts across the country. Now we are eager for Congress to reconvene regular legislative proceedings that typically occur in Washington D.C. Now more than ever, Congress must conduct public oversight and legislative discussions.  Congress needs to work to ensure the coronavirus recovery packages already signed into law are implemented appropriately and future packages are fully responsive to the needs in our communities. The House needs a temporary mechanism to move legislation and convene committee hearings and mark-ups remotely so that vital legislation cannot be hamstrung by relying on unanimous consent agreements. 

While we hope a bipartisan agreement with Republican Leadership that results in temporary remote capabilities on the floor and in committees can be reached in the coming days, if House Republican leadership does not engage on this matter in a constructive way, we must move forward. Therefore, we urge you to commit to bringing a resolution that allows for remote voting and virtual committee proceedings to the floor no later than the week of May 4.

 

Sincerely,

 

Signers: Reps. Derek Kilmer, Suzan DelBene, Annie Kuster, Scott Peters, Terri Sewell, Pete Aguilar, Ami Bera, Kathleen Rice, Jim Himes, Chrissy Houlahan, Mikie Sherrill 

CC: Minority Leader McCarthy, Ranking Member Cole, and Ranking Member Davis



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