Congresswoman Mary Peltola has been voting by proxy, which means not showing up in Congress on the floor to cast her ballot.
Since winning on Nov. 23, she cast a vote through two different colleagues on two different occasions:
Reps. Luis Correa of California and Haley Stevens of Michigan did her work for her.
On both of her official proxy letters, Peltola cites the “ongoing public health emergency” as her reason for having someone else cast her vote for her.
“I am unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency and I hereby grant the authority to cast my vote by proxy to the Honorable Haley Stevens (Michigan), who has agreed to serve as my proxy,” Peltola wrote to the House Clerk on Nov. 29.
She awarded her vote to Correa for the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 7776.
Peltola wasn’t sick, and she wasn’t staying home. She attended parties and had her picture taken with friends and supporters. But she was taking advantage of a Democrat-led rule in the House that allows members to award their vote to a friendly colleague to cast for them.
As the Covid pandemic swept the nation, Congress changed rules in January of 2021, so that members could simply file a letter stating that they can’t physically attend proceedings. In August, Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended the proxy rule to the end of September, so that her members could campaign or go camping, rather than show up for work.
In her letter, Pelosi stated that the extension was due to the “public health emergency.”
“In light of the attached notification by the Sergeant-at-Arms, in consultation with the Office of Attending Physician, that a public health emergency is in effect due to a novel coronavirus, I am hereby extending the ‘covered period’ designated on January 4, 2021, pursuant to section 3(s) of House Resolution 8, until September 26, 2022,” Pelosi wrote in August. By then, more than 5,600 proxy letters had been filed by congressional members with the House Clerk, many of them so that members could simply take vacations.
Last month, Pelosi extended the proxy vote rule until the end of December — nearly until the end of her term as Speaker.
Members of the House GOP leadership team say they plan to end the practice when they take over in January. Incoming Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in September, “We will immediately reopen the Capitol and end the Democrat proxy voting and remote work schemes that have inflicted untold damage to this institution.”