It was a day for the history books on Capitol Hill: For the first time, House lawmakers voted by proxy, an unprecedented move to avoid the risks of travel to Washington during the pandemic. To mark Wednesday's history-making moment, House Republicans sued to stop the Democratic majority's new system, in which absent lawmakers can instruct those present to vote on their behalf. The House rules change tries to strike a balance between working from home and honoring the Constitution’s requirement to be "present" and voting, the AP reports. But it's fast becoming a political test on party lines. More than 70 Democrats cast their vote by proxy. Twenty Republicans joined the lawsuit against the move, which House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California says is unconstitutional.
Democrats engineered the rules change, approved earlier this month, that allows a lawmaker to formally ask a colleague to vote on his or her behalf. A single lawmaker can carry 10 votes. One by one, as voting was underway on the first bill, the Uighur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, some 40 lawmakers rose to announce the proxy votes they represented. They stated each colleague's name and the person’s intended vote, and the actions were recorded. Only limited numbers of lawmakers, many wearing masks, were allowed in the House chamber at once to vote. Republicans said the new system threatens the legitimacy of House-passed bills, calling into question whether they will stand the constitutional test.
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