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Courtney Votes to Authorize Remote Voting in House of Representatives Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

May 15, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass a bipartisan resolution (H. Res. 965) to temporarily implement remote voting by proxy on the Floor of the House of Representatives, as well as to allow for virtual committee proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure was voted on today following weeks of negotiations, and will allow for the House of Representatives to vote on and advance the important work that is before Congress without forcing thousands of support staff and House employees to commute to work, and without causing Members to travel back and forth from Washington, DC to their districts, potentially exposing thousands of others to COVID-19 while in transit. The measure passed this afternoon by a vote of 217-189.

“Congress can’t cling to the past in an emergency like COVID-19,” said Congressman Courtney. “Parliamentary democracies all over the world, such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and France have all modified their proceedings with technology to accommodate social distancing and the need to legislate. The bill we voted on today doesn’t fundamentally change the way Congress works at all, but it does allow us to use remote technology, like our democratic allies, to get important work done for the American people on a temporary, emergency basis.

In the last two months, the House Armed Services Committee and Education and Labor Committee have done teleconference briefings and video conferences on issues such as tensions in the South China Sea, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, and the impact of school closures on K-12 learning, to name a few. These committee video meetings and conference calls are ad hoc and non-public, and thus inadequate in a democratic government. The modified rules will activate committees and floor proceedings in a transparent, safe, commonsense manner, and I am pleased that we finally joined the rest of the world’s leaders in getting it done today.”