McConnell won’t let Senate vote remotely amid coronavirus fears
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water on the idea of lawmakers voting remotely in an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus on Capitol Hill.
“We’ll not be doing that. There are a number of different ways to avoid getting too many people together,” McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday.
The Kentucky Republican added that senators could vote individually or in pairs to help ensure safety, but that he would not make changes to the rules to permit members to vote from outside the chamber.
McConnell added that he was also open to lengthening the amount of time allowed for a vote to avoid senators congregating on the Senate floor.
“We can deal with the social distancing issue without fundamentally changing Senate rules,” he said of his ideas for keeping lawmakers safe.
McConnell also stressed that senators will not leave town until they’ve cleared the third coronavirus relief package.
Numerous lawmakers have suggested changes to congressional rules to allow members of Congress to vote remotely on bills while self-quarantining in their home districts.
Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) reintroduced a 2013 bill last week that would’ve enabled Congresspeople and Senators to cast votes from outside the chamber.
If passed, the bill would not immediately be enforceable, as the secure software needed by lawmakers to access much of their sensitive material is still being created.
Swalwell had introduced the MOBILE Resolution in every Congress since his first election in 2013 to no avail, but viewed the threat of coronavirus as relevant to his bill, saying that the crisis makes it necessary.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, also threw out the idea of voting from home, telling members during a closed Democratic Caucus meeting last week, “no.”
“To the extent that Pelosi shut it down, it’s shut down,” Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) told Roll Call.
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