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Proxy Voting Lets ‘20 People Control’ Congress, Warns Kevin McCarthy
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol May 15, 2020, in Washington, D.C. House Democrats aim to pass a record $3 trillion coronavirus response package Friday to fund the fight against the pandemic and provide emergency payments to millions of U.S. households. (Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP/Getty Images)
Democrats passed proxy voting in their fourth coronavirus recovery bill on Friday. “Instead of 435 [people] representing districts across the nation … 20 people control all of Congress,” says House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, referring to the effect of Democrats’ proxy voting push.
“Each member can call up to 10 proxies,” McCarthy tells The Daily Signal Podcast. “So if the Democrats have 20 people, all holding 10 proxies, they can pass any bill.” He adds, “This is about bringing back the voice of the American public. … Now that voice isn’t even being heard because just 20 people decide what passes and doesn’t.”
Listen to the podcast, or read the lightly edited transcript pasted below.
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Rachel del Guidice: I’m joined today on The Daily Signal Podcast by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Congressman McCarthy, it’s great to have you on The Daily Signal Podcast.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy: Thank you very much. I’m glad to be on.
Del Guidice: Well, thanks for being with us. So, in Democrats fourth coronavirus recovery package, they passed vote by proxy and you have been very outspoken about what they’re trying to do here. What is your perspective on all of this?
McCarthy: Well, it’s to take power away. We have 435 members that represent the entire United States. Districts are cut up evenly. We do a census every two years. Why? Because each district loans their voice and power to their member of Congress.
Now, with a proxy vote, instead of 435 representing districts across the nation that can be held accountable, 20 people control all of Congress, because each member can call up to 10 proxies. So if the Democrats have 20 people, all holding 10 proxies, they can pass any bill.
Now, how can that constituent’s voice be heard? How could that person be held accountable when you can see that [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi can sit in her office, write the largest bill that’s ever been voted on in the history of Congress, never going through one committee, never being questioned except coming direct to the floor with no other options?
And when you look at the bill, it mentions cannabis more than it mentions jobs. I mean, it’s cash for cannabis, with nothing to do with COVID.
Del Guidice: … The floor speech you had called this the most significant power grab in the history of Congress. Can you unpack this for a little bit? What did you mean by that?
McCarthy: … It gives more power to the speaker because it goes against directly what our Founders believed. Our Founders would be ashamed because they expect us to assemble.
If you’re on Capitol Hill right now, and you simply walk two blocks away, you can go to Starbucks and get a coffee or a tea. You can walk a hundred yards away from the House and you could see the Senate meeting.
The only place that’s not meeting is the House itself. Why? Because it provides more power to Nancy Pelosi to write a wish list for liberals inside her own office and just bring it to the floor—$3 trillion with no one even seeing it beforehand, no committees having input into it.
And that’s why, when you look at the bill itself, what did it do? It talked about pot, it talked about prisoners, it politicized federal elections, it prioritized illegal immigrants, and they talked about pensions—nothing to do with COVID itself.
Del Guidice: Looking at their vote by proxy provision, can you detail for us, for people who don’t know, what would this do? How would this change Congress? If you could say three or four things [about] what vote by proxy does, what are those things?
McCarthy: What proxy does [is] it gives the power away. It lets the power rest with only 20 people. It cannot be held accountable.
What’s so sad about this [is] just a few short weeks ago, Speaker Pelosi said actually on our floor, “We are the captains of the ships. We are the last to leave,” but proxy voting calls on Congress to actually abandon the ship, to be the first to leave for months or even possibly the rest of the session. So members never have to come back.
And this is more than about just opening a campus. This is about bringing back the voice of the American public. They are the ones who gave the voice to their constituents. But now that voice isn’t even being heard because just 20 people decide what passes and doesn’t.
Del Guidice: How would proxy voting change historical precedent?
McCarthy: Well, it goes against everything, which I believe is unconstitutional. How can 20 people determine there’s a quorum if the people are not here? Any bill that would be passed via proxy to determine a quorum I would believe wouldn’t stand the constitutional challenge.
… Think for a moment—you have a constituency, you go to your member of Congress and you want them to represent their district, but they pass their vote to another member who’s never been there, never heard from him, and they get to cast that vote.
Del Guidice: … Since you mentioned that, how could vote by proxy especially affect more moderate Democrats who sometimes do cross the aisle to work with Republican counterparts? How could that specifically affect them?
McCarthy: How it would affect them personally—I’m sure Nancy Pelosi will get their votes. So they may be a moderate or say they are, but they’re going to give their vote to the liberal wing of the party and they’re going to have no say.
They don’t have an ability inside a committee to change the course, to make the bill different or better. It only comes to the floor and they have no control over beating back because one member stands up there, here’s 10 votes to your one.
Del Guidice: With proxy voting, could a member choose who gets to cast their proxy vote or is it basically chosen for them?
McCarthy: They can choose. But what do you think the speaker’s going to be able to do? The speaker’s probably going to choose for them if they cannot come back.
If they’re on the floor and we’re bringing up a debate, a different amendment to change the bill and others, they have no say, the proxy gets to determine how the vote goes.
Del Guidice: So does proxy voting … essentially pave the way for an electronic remote voting system completely?
McCarthy: Well, it also puts in there that people can just stay home. And this goes against what I believe everyone wanted and the Founders, they wanted members to assemble. They wanted members to work.
If you remember Roger Sherman, now he’s the only Founder to sign all four great state documents. He said this in 1789, “When the people have chosen a representative, it is his duty to meet others from different parts of the union and consult and agree with them to such acts as are for the general benefit of the whole community.”
Now, Sherman is right, especially in a pandemic. Our presence is important. We are essential and we should be working.
Now, if you’re not here and not working, there is no voice for your district. And that’s what matters. It matters to our Constitution, it matters to our institution, and it matters for all those who come after us because that’s exactly what you’re talking about, that they would change the constitutional behavior.
If you look Article One, Section Three, Four, or Five, they believe Congress should meet.
Del Guidice: … Would [vote by proxy] become the new normal for Congress? And if so, how would that happen?
McCarthy: Right now they say it’s only during COVID, but I believe it will just continue on. We’ve watched that time and again, because it empowers the speaker more power, and that’s what she craves the most.
Del Guidice: When it comes to proxy voting, are there security risks involved too for the House, if everything were to move online?
McCarthy: Big security. If 20 people are given all the power, how does that person that gave their proxy away know if the bill changed or [if the] amendment was brought up or others? Just those 20 people can decide whatever happens.
Del Guidice: Looking at things from just a larger perspective regarding the bill, the latest coronavirus bill that was passed, what was your perspective on that bill as a whole, proxy voting aside?
McCarthy: The bill did not reflect what the country needed or desired because it never went through committee. It was written just by Nancy Pelosi. And the main elements of the bill were things that the Democrats from the socialist wing of the party have been trying to pass all year, long before COVID ever came through.
You look at the Democrats’ most important bill, H.R. 1. That dealt with federalizing the election, taking the power away from states. Well, they put that in the bill.
Releasing people from prisons—that’s something that they’ve been trying to do some quite time. Prioritizing illegal immigrants, making sure they’re receiving money instead of Americans themselves, that was in the bill as well.
So if you watch, a number of these bills had already passed by the Democrats and that’s what they hope to make.
Remember what the No. 3 Democrat Jim Clyburn said to all the conference, he believes COVID is a perfect time to restructure government in their view.
You’ve got freshmen congresswomen who love the idea that when the price of oil drops so hard that people are losing their jobs, they said they loved it.
They believed that they shouldn’t pass the bill when we were putting forth money for small businesses because they believed COVID gave them a leverage to actually restructure government, much like the majority whip set. And then we had [former Vice President] Joe Biden saying the exact same thing.
They don’t look at COVID as an opportunity to solve a virus and a concern for all of America. They look at it as an opportunity to restructure government in a more socialist, liberal view.
Del Guidice: In light of that, Congressman McCarthy, lastly, how do you think the U.S. should be dealing with COVID right now and what the House’s role is in addressing COVID?
McCarthy: The first thing we should do is make sure the $3 trillion we already passed gets implemented out there. The next thing we should do is make sure when it’s in the antibodies and the vaccines have all that they need to continue moving forward.
We should not be focusing on cannabis or election law or prisoners or others. We should focus on what keeps Americans safe.
The virus is here. We did not invite it, we did not ask for it, but we will defeat it together, if we work together.
But the idea of what the Democrats have done, using this as an opportunity to restructure Congress, so just 4.5% of Congress can decide what bill gets passed and others, instead of have a reflection of the nation themselves, that everybody has a voice in their government, but this is shutting it down.
Just why they keep government shut down itself, instead … Congress itself should be working because we are essential, what does that say to every truck driver that brings the food in or to the doctors or the dispatchers if Congress won’t work, but they will?
Del Guidice: Congressman McCarthy, thank you so much for unpacking this issue for us and for joining us on The Daily Signal Podcast.
McCarthy: Thank you so much.
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