(House of Representatives - May 15, 2020)

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[Pages H2019-H2042]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 967, I call 
up the resolution (H. Res. 965) authorizing remote voting by proxy in 
the House of Representatives and providing for official remote 
committee proceedings during a public health emergency due to a novel 
coronavirus, and for other purposes, and ask for its immediate 
  The Clerk read the title of the resolution.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 967, the 
resolution is considered read.
  The text of the resolution is as follows:

                              H. Res. 965



       (a) Authorization.--Notwithstanding rule III, at any time 
     after the Speaker or the Speaker's designee is notified by 
     the Sergeant-at-Arms, in consultation with the Attending 
     Physician, that a public health emergency due to a novel 
     coronavirus is in effect, the Speaker or the Speaker's 
     designee, in consultation with the Minority Leader or the 
     Minority Leader's designee, may designate a period (hereafter 
     in this resolution referred to as a ``covered period'') 
     during which a Member who is designated by another Member as 
     a proxy in accordance with section 2 may cast the vote of 
     such other Member or record the presence of such other Member 
     in the House.
       (b) Length of Covered Period.--
       (1) In general.--Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and 
     (3), a covered period shall terminate 45 days after the 
     Speaker or the Speaker's designee designates such period.
       (2) Extension.--If, during a covered period, the Speaker or 
     the Speaker's designee receives further notification from the 
     Sergeant-at-Arms, in consultation with the Attending 
     Physician, that the public health emergency due to a novel 
     coronavirus remains in effect, the Speaker or the Speaker's 
     designee, in consultation with the Minority Leader or the 
     Minority Leader's designee, may extend the covered period for 
     an additional 45 days.
       (3) Early termination.--If, during a covered period, the 
     Speaker or the Speaker's designee receives further 
     notification by the Sergeant-at-Arms, in consultation with 
     the Attending Physician, that the public health emergency due 
     to a novel coronavirus is no longer in effect, the Speaker or 
     the Speaker's designee shall terminate the covered period.


       (a) In General.--
       (1) Designation by signed letter.--In order for a Member to 
     designate another

[[Page H2020]]

     Member as a proxy for purposes of section 1, the Member shall 
     submit to the Clerk a signed letter (which may be in 
     electronic form) specifying by name the Member who is 
     designated for such purposes.
       (2) Alteration or revocation of designation.--
       (A) In general.--At any time after submitting a letter to 
     designate a proxy under paragraph (1), a Member may submit to 
     the Clerk a signed letter (which may be in electronic form) 
     altering or revoking the designation.
       (B) Automatic revocation upon casting of vote or recording 
     of presence.--If during a covered period, a Member who has 
     designated another Member as a proxy under this section casts 
     the Member's own vote or records the Member's own presence in 
     the House, the Member shall be considered to have revoked the 
     designation of any proxy under this subsection with respect 
     to such covered period.
       (3) Notification.--Upon receipt of a letter submitted by a 
     Member pursuant to paragraphs (1) or (2), the Clerk shall 
     notify the Speaker, the majority leader, the Minority Leader, 
     and the other Member or Members involved of the designation, 
     alteration, or revocation.
       (4) Limitation.--A Member may not be designated as a proxy 
     under this section for more than 10 Members concurrently.
       (b) Maintenance and Availability of List of Designations.--
     The Clerk shall maintain an updated list of the designations, 
     alterations, and revocations submitted or in effect under 
     subsection (a), and shall make such list publicly available 
     in electronic form and available during any vote conducted 
     pursuant to section 3.


       (a) Recorded Votes Ordered.--
       (1) In general.--Notwithstanding clause 6 of rule I, during 
     a covered period, the yeas and nays shall be considered as 
     ordered on any vote on which a recorded vote or the yeas and 
     nays are requested, or which is objected to under clause 6 of 
     rule XX.
       (2) Indications of proxy status.--In the case of a vote by 
     electronic device, a Member who casts a vote or records a 
     presence as a designated proxy for another Member under this 
     resolution shall do so by ballot card, indicating on the 
     ballot card ``by proxy''.
       (b) Determination of Quorum.--Any Member whose vote is cast 
     or whose presence is recorded by a designated proxy under 
     this resolution shall be counted for the purpose of 
     establishing a quorum under the rules of the House.
       (c) Instructions From Member Authorizing Proxy.--
       (1) Receiving instructions.--Prior to casting the vote or 
     recording the presence of another Member as a designated 
     proxy under this resolution, the Member shall obtain an exact 
     instruction from the other Member with respect to such vote 
     or quorum call, in accordance with the regulations referred 
     to in section 6.
       (2) Announcing instructions.--Immediately prior to casting 
     the vote or recording the presence of another Member as a 
     designated proxy under this resolution, the Member shall seek 
     recognition from the Chair to announce the intended vote or 
     recorded presence pursuant to the exact instruction received 
     from the other Member under paragraph (1).
       (3) Following instructions.--A Member casting the vote or 
     recording the presence of another Member as a designated 
     proxy under this resolution shall cast such vote or record 
     such presence pursuant to the exact instruction received from 
     the other Member under paragraph (1).


       (a) Authorization.--During any covered period, and 
     notwithstanding any rule of the House or its committees--
       (1) any committee may conduct proceedings remotely in 
     accordance with this section, and any such proceedings 
     conducted remotely shall be considered as official 
     proceedings for all purposes in the House;
       (2) committee members may participate remotely during in-
     person committee proceedings, and committees shall, to the 
     greatest extent practicable, ensure the ability of members to 
     participate remotely;
       (3) committee members may cast a vote or record their 
     presence while participating remotely;
       (4) committee members participating remotely pursuant to 
     this section shall be counted for the purpose of establishing 
     a quorum under the rules of the House and the committee;
       (5) witnesses at committee proceedings may appear remotely;
       (6) committee proceedings conducted remotely are deemed to 
     satisfy the requirement of a ``place'' for purposes of 
     clauses 2(g)(3) and 2(m)(1) of rule XI; and
       (7) reports of committees (including those filed as 
     privileged) may be delivered to the Clerk in electronic form, 
     and written and signed views under clause 2(l) of rule XI may 
     be filed in electronic form with the clerk of the committee.
       (b) Limitation on Business Meetings.--A committee shall not 
     conduct a meeting remotely or permit remote participation at 
     a meeting under this section until a member of the committee 
     submits for printing in the Congressional Record a letter 
     from a majority of the members of the committee notifying the 
     Speaker that the requirements for conducting a meeting in the 
     regulations referred to in subsection (h) have been met and 
     that the committee is prepared to conduct a remote meeting 
     and permit remote participation.
       (c) Remote Proceedings.--Notwithstanding any rule of the 
     House or its committees, during proceedings conducted 
     remotely pursuant to this section--
       (1) remote participation shall not be considered absence 
     for purposes of clause 5(c) of rule X or clause 2(d) of rule 
       (2) the chair may declare a recess subject to the call of 
     the chair at any time to address technical difficulties with 
     respect to such proceedings;
       (3) copies of motions, amendments, measures, or other 
     documents submitted to the committee in electronic form as 
     prescribed by the regulations referred to in subsection (h) 
     shall satisfy any requirement for the submission of printed 
     or written documents under the rules of the House or its 
       (4) the requirement that results of recorded votes be made 
     available by the committee in its offices pursuant to clause 
     2(e)(1)(B)(i) of rule XI shall not apply;
       (5) a committee may manage the consideration of amendments 
     pursuant to the regulations referred to in subsection (h);
       (6) counsel shall be permitted to accompany witnesses at a 
     remote proceeding in accordance with the regulations referred 
     to in subsection (h); and
       (7) an oath may be administered to a witness remotely for 
     purposes of clause 2(m)(2) of rule XI.
       (d) Remote Participants During In-Person Proceedings.--All 
     relevant provisions of this section and the regulations 
     referred to in subsection (h) shall apply to committee 
     members participating remotely during in-person committee 
     proceedings held during any covered period.
       (e) Transparency for Meetings and Hearings.--Any committee 
     meeting or hearing that is conducted remotely in accordance 
     with the regulations referred to in subsection (h)--
       (1) shall be considered open to the public;
       (2) shall be deemed to have satisfied the requirement for 
     non-participatory attendance under clause 2(g)(2)(C) of rule 
     XI; and
       (3) shall be deemed to satisfy all requirements for 
     broadcasting and audio and visual coverage under rule V, 
     clause 4 of rule XI, and accompanying committee rules.
       (f) Subpoenas.--
       (1) Authority.--Any committee or chair thereof empowered to 
     authorize and issue subpoenas may authorize and issue 
     subpoenas for return at a hearing or deposition to be 
     conducted remotely under this section.
       (2) Use of electronic signature and seal.--During any 
     covered period, authorized and issued subpoenas may be signed 
     in electronic form; and the Clerk may attest and affix the 
     seal of the House to such subpoenas in electronic form.
       (g) Executive Sessions.--
       (1) Prohibition.--A committee may not conduct closed or 
     executive session proceedings remotely, and members may not 
     participate remotely in closed or executive session 
       (2) Motion to close proceedings.--Upon adoption of a motion 
     to close proceedings or to move into executive session with 
     respect to a proceeding conducted remotely under this 
     section, the chair shall declare the committee in recess 
     subject to the call of the chair with respect to such matter 
     until it can reconvene in person.
       (3) Exception.--Paragraphs (1) and (2) do not apply to 
     proceedings of the Committee on Ethics.
       (h) Regulations.--This section shall be carried out in 
     accordance with regulations submitted for printing in the 
     Congressional Record by the chair of the Committee on Rules.
       (i) Application to Subcommittees and Select Committees.--
     For purposes of this section, the term ``committee'' or 
     ``committees'' also includes a subcommittee and a select 

                   VOTING IN HOUSE.

       (a) Study and Certification.--The chair of the Committee on 
     House Administration, in consultation with the ranking 
     minority member, shall study the feasibility of using 
     technology to conduct remote voting in the House, and shall 
     provide certification to the House upon a determination that 
     operable and secure technology exists to conduct remote 
     voting in the House.
       (b) Regulations.--
       (1) Initial regulations.--On any legislative day that 
     follows the date on which the chair of the Committee on House 
     Administration provides the certification described in 
     subsection (a), the chair of the Committee on Rules, in 
     consultation with the ranking minority member, shall submit 
     regulations for printing in the Congressional Record that 
     provide for the implementation of remote voting in the House.
       (2) Supplemental regulations.--At any time after submitting 
     the initial regulations under paragraph (1), the chair of the 
     Committee on Rules, in consultation with the ranking minority 
     member, may submit regulations to supplement the initial 
     regulations submitted under such paragraph for printing in 
     the Congressional Record.
       (c) Implementation.--Notwithstanding any rule of the House, 
     upon notification of the House by the Speaker after the 
     submission of regulations by the chair of the Committee on 
     Rules under subsection (b)--

[[Page H2021]]

       (1) Members may cast their votes or record their presence 
     in the House remotely during a covered period;
       (2) any Member whose vote is cast or whose presence is 
     recorded remotely under this section shall be counted for the 
     purpose of establishing a quorum under the rules of the 
     House; and
       (3) the casting of votes and the recording of presence 
     remotely under this section shall be subject to the 
     applicable regulations submitted by the chair of the 
     Committee on Rules under subsection (b).


       To the greatest extent practicable, sections 1, 2, and 3 of 
     this resolution shall be carried out in accordance with 
     regulations submitted for printing in the Congressional 
     Record by the chair of the Committee on Rules.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The resolution shall be debatable for 1 
hour, equally divided and controlled by the chair and ranking minority 
member of the Committee on Rules.
  The gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) and the gentleman 
from Oklahoma (Mr. Cole) each will control 30 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Massachusetts.

                             General Leave

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
be given 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Massachusetts?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, we are in the midst of a pandemic, the 
likes of which the world hasn't seen in more than 100 years.
  The question before us today is a simple one: Will this institution, 
which has adapted to challenges and technology time and time again 
throughout its history, adapt so that we can continue legislating 
during this public health emergency.
  Medical experts have told us that COVID-19 is up to three times more 
contagious than the flu. That means, in a normal cycle of this virus, 
just one person with coronavirus could kick off a snowball effect that 
leads to up to 59,000 new infections.
  Now think about that.
  And then think about the way we normally operate here. Members travel 
frequently from their home States, some of which are coronavirus hot 
spots, to convene together here in the Capitol complex. Then we travel 
back home at the end of the week. And we repeat this process month 
after month after month.
  Along the way, we come in contact with fellow travelers, colleagues, 
the general public, press, and the hundreds and hundreds of people who 
help make this House operate. There is no telling who among them could 
have compromised immune systems, preexisting conditions, or other 
heightened risks for illness. But we know just how easy this virus 
spreads among those with strong immune systems.
  That is why the choices that each one of us makes are especially 
important--not just about protecting Members of Congress. This is about 
protecting all of those who come in contact with us.
  Now, any of us could have the virus and not even know it. We could be 
asymptomatic but be carriers nonetheless. Convening Congress must not 
turn into a superspreader event.
  Technology has changed considerably over the last 231 years. There 
are now tools available that make temporary committee proceedings and 
remote voting on the House floor possible--not forever, just 
temporarily during this emergency.
  Now, some on the other side seem to think that temporarily embracing 
technology during this pandemic is a radical idea.
  Well, let me say this loud and clear to my colleagues, Mr. Speaker: 
If anyone tells you you would be giving away your vote with remote 
voting by proxy, this is just a lie. Plain and simple, it is just not 
  What would be radical is if this House did nothing, if we made 
Members decide between spreading a deadly virus or legislating for the 
American people. That is a false choice. We can and we should do both.
  At least 16 States, 10 countries, and the European Parliament have 
all implemented some form of remote procedures to safely conduct 
official proceedings during this pandemic. With this resolution, this 
House can finally join them.
  Now, let me repeat: We are not suggesting permanent changes. No one 
believes we do our best work in person and side by side more than me, 
Mr. Speaker. Remote legislating will only be utilized so long as this 
pandemic continues.
  Mr. Speaker, this is the type of adapting that this House has always 
done. Our Founders did not vote by electronic device, but we do. 
Constituents, decades ago, couldn't watch floor proceedings live on C-
SPAN or listen to them on the radio, but ours can. Changes were made to 
our quorum requirement time and time again, including most recently 
after the September 11 attacks. And I could go on and on and on and on.
  Believe it or not, adapting is action in this institution's DNA. 
There are always those quick to proclaim that any change means ending 
the House as we know it. But you know what, Mr. Speaker? The sky did 
not fall, and the House continues its work.
  So I don't say this to make light of what we are doing here today. 
What we are doing is serious. It is a big deal. My State of 
Massachusetts has one of the oldest legislatures in the country, but 
even they changed their rules to allow for remote voting.
  You can respect tradition without blinding yourself of the need to 
make temporary changes when necessary, and today is one of those times. 
This resolution comes after careful study, months of talks, feedback 
from constitutional experts, and conversations among a bipartisan task 
force. This resolution has been strengthened by this deliberative 
process, and it contains many provisions suggested by my Republican 
friends. It is now time to act.
  Now, some communities have turned the corner with this virus, and I 
hope that continues. Medical experts tell us, however, that a second 
wave this fall could be even more damaging than what we are seeing now. 
So as we hope for the best, we must prepare for the worst. Anything 
less would be a dereliction of our responsibility.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to join with us in 
supporting this resolution. Let's adapt the way this institution has 
always done. And let's make sure that we can continue legislating 
during this pandemic, no matter what the future may bring.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, we have worked long and hard together and tried to do so 
cooperatively. As my friend said, there are a number of things in here 
we have worked on together but, in the end, we were unable to reach an 
  Mr. Speaker, we are back here to consider the resolution representing 
the most consequential change to the rules of the House of 
Representatives in my time in Congress, and possibly the most 
consequential rules change since the establishment of the modern 
committee system in the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946.
  Today, Mr. Speaker, the majority is proposing, for the first time in 
our history, a system of proxy voting on the floor of the House of 
Representatives. That change also allows for the adoption of a totally 
remote voting procedure upon the certification of a single Member of 
Congress. Second, it would allow for committees to perform remote 
proceedings, including markups.
  Above all else, Mr. Speaker, Republicans believe that any change to 
centuries-old rules of the House should only be done in a bipartisan 
way that achieves consensus. Unfortunately, these proposed rules 
changes do not meet that goal.
  While I have no doubt of the chairman's good intentions, I believe 
these changes will fundamentally alter the nature of the institution, 
and not for the better. As such, I simply cannot support them.
  Mr. Speaker, though this resolution is intended only to deal with the 
present public health emergency, we must never forget that the 
temporary changes that we make today become the precedent that we 
follow tomorrow. I am deeply concerned that shifting to remote 
activity, both in the form of proxy voting and the form of remote 
committee work, will fundamentally change the way the House operates 
and will remove the collegial environment we enjoy when we meet in 
person, get

[[Page H2022]]

to know one another, and use our knowledge of each legislator as a 
person to move toward bipartisan consensus. I fear that that would be 
lost in remote activity.
  I am also deeply concerned that these changes will not pass 
constitutional muster. Why we would risk exposing important legislation 
to obvious constitutional flaws does not make sense to me.
  Most of all, I am concerned that we are moving forward with these 
changes on a partisan basis. Any change that is this consequential 
should only be done after we reach bipartisan agreement--no matter how 
difficult it may be to achieve.
  Mr. Speaker, I think a bipartisan agreement was possible on much of 
what my friends are trying to accomplish, but today's resolution is 
simply not it.
  I have a modest suggestion to my friends: Let's take appropriate 
cautions and go back to work. That is what the executive branch is 
doing. That is what the United States Senate is doing. That is what 
millions of Americans do each and every day. We should be no different. 
The House should do the same.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to reject these rules changes today 
and return to the drawing board so that we can act together in a 
bipartisan manner to ensure that Congress can continue to operate 
during this crisis.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge opposition to the resolution, and I reserve the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record a letter from 
Erwin Chemerinsky, the renowned constitutional scholar and dean of 
Berkeley School of Law, who actually wrote the book on constitutional 
law, discussing his view that the remote voting process we are 
considering today would be constitutional.

                                     University of California,

                                                     May 13, 2020.
     Chairman McGovern and Ranking Member Cole,
     House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman McGovern and Ranking Member Cole: I have been 
     asked for my view as to whether the House of Representatives 
     could constitutionally adopt a rule to permit remote voting 
     by proxy. As explained below, I believe that this would be 
     constitutional and it is very unlikely that any court would 
     invalidate such a rule, especially in light of the current 
     public health emergency.
       My understanding is that the system of remote voting by 
     proxy that is being considered would have some key features:
       Low-tech remote voting process through proxy voting
       Some number of Members would be present on the Floor for 
     debate and in-Chamber voting
       Proxy would be used to establish a quorum and to register 
     the yeas/nays
       The proxy holder would be another Member of the House
       The proxy holder would have NO discretion on the vote. 
     Instead, the proxy holder would be required (through the rule 
     and accompanying regulations) to cast the vote in accordance 
     with the specific and exact instruction from the Member.
       The Constitution bestows on each House of Congress broad 
     discretion to determine the rules for its own proceedings. 
     Article I, section 5 of the Constitution says: ``Each House 
     may determine the Rules of its proceedings.'' This authority 
     is expansive and would include the ability to adopt a rule to 
     permit proxy voting. Nothing in the Constitution specifies 
       Moreover, if this were challenged in court, it is very 
     likely that the case would be dismissed as a political 
     question. The Supreme Court has ruled that challenges to the 
     internal operation of Congress are not justiciable in the 
     federal courts. See Field v. Clark, 143 U.S. 649 (1892). 
     Indeed, I have written, the Court often ``has held that 
     congressional judgments pertaining to its internal governance 
     should not be reviewed by the federal judiciary.'' Erwin 
     Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies 
     Sec. 2.8.5 (6th ed. 2019).
       Especially in the context of the current public health 
     emergency, it is highly unlikely that any court would review 
     and invalidate the procedures adopted by the House of 
     Representatives that would allow it to conduct its business 
     without endangering the health of its members and its staff. 
     Every branch of government is devising new procedures to 
     accomplish this. The Supreme Court, for example, will conduct 
     oral arguments by telephone for the first time in its 
     history. I am sure that the rules will ensure that the votes 
     cast by proxy are accurate and carefully recorded.
       I hope that this is helpful. Please do not hesitate to let 
     me know if I can be of further assistance.
                                                Erwin Chemerinsky.

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, in the letter, the dean states: ``The 
Constitution bestows on each House of Congress broad discretion to 
determine the rules for its own proceedings. . . . This authority is 
expansive and would include the ability to adopt a rule to permit proxy 
voting. Nothing in the Constitution specifies otherwise.''
  I also just say to my friend that the White House isn't operating as 
business as usual. My understanding is that the Vice President has been 
sequestered from the President. In addition to that, everybody in the 
White House is being tested multiple times before they can even get 
near the President. A lot of the work is being done by video 
conference. So even they are doing things differently.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. 

                              {time}  1300

  Mr. PETERS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 965 to 
authorize remote voting and to continue committee proceedings remotely 
during the public health emergency of COVID-19.
  Governors and mayors across the Nation have ordered Americans to stay 
home, to work from home, and avoid travel. Until we have adequate 
testing or a vaccine to protect ourselves and prevent our healthcare 
system from being overwhelmed, the best we can do here is to follow 
that advice.
  We in Congress must do what we have asked of our constituents and 
what others have ordered of them. Some argue--and we have heard this 
just recently--that because we are asking our frontline heroes to show 
up at work, we lawmakers should be required to convene here in D.C. But 
that argument misses the point and dishonors our frontline workers, 
particularly those healthcare workers who are begging people to stay 
home, to avoid nonessential travel in order to slow the spread of this 
deadly disease. They ask others to stay home so that some day they can 
go home.
  We in Congress are not first responders or frontline healthcare 
workers, although our frontline responders are certainly counting on us 
to provide them the resources they need. But we can hold our meetings 
and conduct our communications electronically. And because of the space 
limitations created by the need for physical distancing, working 
remotely is probably the only way that all of our committees can 
function at the same time.
  Like everyone else, I don't want to give up the opportunity to work 
with my colleagues in person. Our interactions are too productive, and 
our relationships are too valuable. But in the face of this once-in-a-
lifetime global pandemic, we need to overcome our default position.
  Remote voting is not cowardice. It is leadership. Let's live by the 
same rules we impose on our fellow citizens. Let's show by our actions 
that we ourselves take this threat seriously.
  I want to thank the leadership of Mr. McGovern and Ms. Lofgren and 
all of the other folks who have worked on this, including my friend, 
Mr. Cole, and I urge support of this resolution.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Thornberry), my good friend and the distinguished ranking member 
of the House Armed Services Committee.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, those of us on the Armed Services 
Committee are privileged to work around, with, and for the men and 
women who serve in the military. Every one of them is a volunteer. 
Every one of them expects reasonable precautions with their health and 
safety and well-being. But every one of them knows that in carrying out 
their duties, there is some risk that goes with it, and they carry out 
their duties admirably.
  What a contrast to what we are seeing with this resolution. I think 
one of the proudest times I have had in this House over the last 25 
years has been on 9/11 and the days thereafter. That very evening, 
Members gathered on the steps of the Capitol, and in the days 
thereafter we went right back to work and passed the legislation that 
was needed to deal with the terrorist threat.
  We were not even intimidated when many of our offices were attacked 
by anthrax in the days thereafter. It was not just about showing 
resolution to the terrorists; it was about showing the

[[Page H2023]]

country that we can come together and get our work done. What a 
contrast to what we are seeing with this resolution.
  Through the Civil War, 1918 flu, World War II, 9/11, throughout our 
history, there has never been proxy voting on this floor. Members 
accepted the risk and carried out their duties to the best of their 
ability. It was not about technology; it was about trust and integrity.
  Were our predecessors so much braver than we are? Were they more 
ignorant about the risk or more careless with their own safety? Was 
their sense of their responsibility to the American people greater than 
ours? None of this makes sense.
  But what makes the least sense of all, Mr. Speaker, is that any 
Member of either party would support a resolution that allows any of us 
to vacate, even temporarily, the trust placed in us by voters and 
undermine the very foundation of this representative democracy.
  Our history is better than that. The voters deserve better than that. 
To me, Mr. Speaker, it is sad, rather despicable, and one of the 
darkest days in this institution.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Let me just say to the gentleman who just spoke, I am not 
intimidated, and I am not afraid; none of us are here. This isn't about 
any of that. This is about doing what is sensible, what is in the 
public health interest. This is not about us. It is about the people 
you all come in contact with.
  Those who walk around and don't wear masks, somehow as a display of 
how unafraid they may be, may be carriers who are asymptomatic 
spreading this disease.
  This is a public health crisis. This is different than what happened 
on 9/11. This is a public health crisis; that is, somebody who is 
carrying this disease can spread it in a very aggressive way.
  So please spare me the self-righteous kind of indignation over this. 
We are supposed to follow the medical advice. We are supposed to 
practice social distancing.
  And yet, the Rules Committee, which is the smallest committee in the 
Congress, had to meet in the Ways and Means Committee room, and we took 
up the whole room. We have 21 standing committees; I don't know how 
many subcommittees. Where does the Armed Services Committee meet? Where 
does the Transportation Committee meet? Maybe we can meet on the House 
floor, maybe one committee at a time.
  I mean, the bottom line is, if we are going to follow the medical 
advice, we should not paralyze this institution.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 1\1/2\ minutes to the gentleman from New Jersey 
(Mr. Gottheimer), a distinguished member of this Chamber and a co-chair 
of the Problem Solvers.
  Mr. GOTTHEIMER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as Congress adapts for this 
pandemic so that we can represent our constituents and shape 
legislation during this crisis and do so safely in line with CDC 
  This resolution includes remote committee participation and proxy 
voting, which are essential reforms during this pandemic and key to 
giving the American public the accountability and transparency they 
deserve. I am hoping remote floor debate and voting are next, and this 
paves the way. The Supreme Court is doing it, and so can we.
  State legislators, including Oklahoma, and in my State of New Jersey, 
and legislators around the world are doing it. We are behind here, and 
it is time we step up. There is nothing extreme about working this way 
and adapting during an emergency, just like all Americans have.
  I am very grateful to Chairman McGovern, my good friend, a true 
statesman and institutionalist, and Representative Lofgren, who has 
done an incredible job, for working with us in the Problem Solvers 
Caucus, with Democrats and Republicans, as we have continued making 
strides towards a truly remote system.
  This debate and work are key for my district in north Jersey, which 
is at the epicenter of this crisis. Today's bill also includes full 
reinstatement of the SALT deduction, giving New Jersey a long-needed 
tax cut, something I have been fighting for for years. It also helps 
small businesses make ends meet, for workers who aren't sure they will 
get another paycheck, and for every other single county and community 
so they can support teachers, cops, EMS, and firefighters.
  But it starts with making sure our system is built so we can do it, 
and today's proposal does just that. We should all support this 
legislation to defend this institution, to protect it, and to ensure 
that accountability and transparency in this institution lives on 
forever in the greatest country in the world.
  I know we will get through this together if we put country ahead of 
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Minnesota (Mr. Hagedorn), my good friend and a distinguished Member of 
this body.
  Mr. HAGEDORN. Mr. Speaker, I believe this is a bad idea for this 
institution and a terrible example for the Nation. I recommend a ``no'' 
  You know, it is ironic that as our Nation opens up and people go back 
to work safely and responsibly into their jobs, the House is making a 
move to shut down, for all intents and purposes.
  You know, tens of millions of Americans throughout this outbreak, 
this pandemic, have been out delivering and producing our energy, our 
food, helping with people in hospitals, policing our neighborhoods. 
They have been doing their jobs, and we should be doing our jobs in 
person moving forward.
  You know, some might question why a Member of Congress like myself, 
who is dealing with stage 4 cancer, getting treatment the last year at 
the Mayo Clinic, why I would be the one passionately wanting everyone 
to travel and work in this Chamber, work in our committees. And it is 
because it is a bad idea for this House. It is a bad idea that we don't 
do our jobs in person. We are setting a terrible example.
  Personally, though, I can tell you this: This is the job that I 
signed up for. This is the job that I asked the people of southern 
Minnesota for. And this is the job that I want to do. It is an honor to 
serve them. I think we should do it in person, work in committee in 
person, and do our jobs. And we can do it safely and responsibly.
  I recommend a ``no'' vote.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman should be happy to know 
under the proposal we have, he can come here anytime he wants. He can 
be in his committee. He can be on this floor and debate. But this is 
for those who are in circumstances where that is impossible. It 
provides an opportunity for them to participate as well.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from Michigan (Ms. 
  Ms. STEVENS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss the activity of the 
House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, as we work through 
extraordinary circumstances to deliver for the American people.
  The Science Committee, under the leadership of Chairwoman Johnson and 
Ranking Member Lucas, has been holding briefings on topics such as 
infrastructure, energy jobs, vaccine developments, through the great 
technologies available to us over the worldwide web. Each has been 
  One important focus has been our domestic manufacturing role, 
retooling production lines to make the medical supplies needed to 
respond to the ongoing health crisis. This has been of particular 
importance for the Subcommittee on Research and Technology, which I 
chair, along with Ranking Member Baird.
  How do we open platforms and utilize digital technologies for 
industrial collaboration to solve big problems and streamline our 
supply chain to get the medical supplies to those who need them now?
  The Science Committee will continue to do the work it has always done 
to meet the needs of the American people, to propel American 
manufacturing innovation forward.
  I urge my colleagues to support this fabulous resolution that will 
enable us to continue to do our work under great and trying 
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Arkansas (Mr. Womack), my very good friend, and the distinguished 
Republican ranking member of the Budget Committee, and a fellow member 
of the Appropriations Committee.
  Mr. WOMACK. Mr. Speaker, born from the people, the work of Congress

[[Page H2024]]

is an integral part of our Nation. Or is it? Judging from the 
legislation that is before us right now, I am not so sure.
  But tracing back to the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War 
II, 9/11, and many others, the House's business has never ceased, even 
in the toughest times in our country, and it should not cease today.

  But instead of working safely, bringing back Members to the House, 
Speaker Pelosi has decided to pursue proxy voting.
  Senators are back at work. Our military is on point right now 
defending our country in all corners of the world. Doctors, nurses, 
grocery workers, truck drivers, delivery personnel, they are showing up 
every day. They are not shirking from their duty. Shouldn't the House 
lead by example?
  New House procedures might very well be necessary, but any change to 
the centuries-old rules that could fundamentally alter this institution 
should never be done without bipartisan support. And we are not seeing 
  This proposal runs counter to the Constitution, and it marginalizes, 
in my strong opinion, Mr. Speaker, the lawmaking process.
  We need transparency, accountability, not procedures that further 
centralize the decision-making of our country into the hands of a 
select few. We must get back to regular order, and this is not the path 
back to regular order.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I am happy to provide the gentleman who just spoke with the history 
of the House of Representatives as to how voting rules have changed 
  But this radical idea that we are talking about here today, just look 
to the United States Senate. I mean, they just held a hearing in their 
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions where some people 
were present, and some were remote. The chair and ranking member were 
remote, and administration witnesses were brought in through video 
  I mean, the Senate can do it. Maybe my friends are afraid of 
technology. We will get you the help. We will get you the help to make 
it comfortable for you. But the bottom line is, if the Senate can do 
it, if it is okay for the United States Senate, why is it not okay for 
the House of Representatives?
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from California (Mr. 
  Mr. McNERNEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 965. Today, 
there are more than 1.45 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 
86,000 related deaths in the United States, and these numbers continue 
to increase.
  Our job in Congress is to provide help and leadership in this crisis. 
It is critical that we continue serving our constituents. But requiring 
Members of Congress to travel back and forth to Washington to vote and 
participate in official business in person during this pandemic puts 
the health of our constituents and ourselves at greater risk.
  All this traveling by so many Members of Congress will worsen the 
crisis we are working to mitigate. If you don't agree with the rule 
changes, I urge you to reconsider. If you care about the health of your 
constituents, if you care about the health of yourself, your 
colleagues, and your staff, and if you really want to mitigate this 
crisis, then support the temporary rule and vote ``yes'' on H. Res. 
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
California (Mr. McClintock), my very good friend.

                              {time}  1315

  Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Speaker, the word ``congress'' literally means 
the act of coming together and meeting. The Constitution calls for 
representatives to attend, to assemble, and to meet. Congress is a 
deliberative body, and by its very nature, that requires the people's 
representatives to interact with each other, both through formal 
proceedings as well as through the countless informal conversations 
that are the unique product of coming together and meeting.
  Fulfilling that duty, Congress has met throughout every war and 
pandemic that has come before us. We expect grocery clerks to show up 
at 4:00 in the morning to restock the shelves, but the House of 
Representatives is going to phone it in?
  Each of us is the proxy for our constituents. They expect us to speak 
and vote for them, and answer to them, not hand off that trust to 
someone entirely unaccountable because we are too lazy or too scared to 
show up for work.
  Good God, what are we doing to our country?
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  It is obvious that the gentleman who just spoke didn't read the bill. 
Nobody is asking anybody to hand off their ability to cast a vote here. 
There is no discretion involved. If he reads the bill, he will figure 
that out.
  Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record a May 5 opinion piece published 
in The Hill from Saikrishna Prakash, a constitutional law professor 
from the University of Virginia and former clerk to the late Supreme 
Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

                      [From the Hill, May 5, 2020]

                    One Virtue of a Virtual Congress

                        (By Saikrishna Prakash)

       The need for social distancing has led to new demands for 
     distant voting. With the coronavirus in the air, Congress is 
     awash with proposals to allow senators and representatives to 
     cast votes away from the chamber floors on Capitol Hill. It 
     is true that desperate times call for desperate measures, but 
     however extreme this reform may seem, remote voting would 
     indeed be allowed under the Constitution. This new practice 
     could also lead to the reform of one regrettable habit of the 
     legislative branch.
       The Framers likely assumed that members of the chambers 
     would gather in a single room in order to conduct business. 
     References to ``assemble'' and ``attendance'' in the 
     Constitution suggest as much. Congress could easily satisfy 
     this narrow reading of these terms if each chamber met in 
     cavernous spaces. For instance, the Senate could meet in the 
     baseball stadium where the Washington Nationals play, while 
     the House could gather on the football field where the 
     Washington Redskins play. Then legislators could easily sit 
     several feet apart as they work.
       But the chambers need not be so constrained. Laws can have 
     meaning and serve purposes without being tied to the 
     technology of a particular era. For instance, modem 
     presidents have signed legislation by autopen, even though 
     this technology is somewhat new. The justification for this 
     is that so long as the president makes a decision about 
     whether to approve a bill, the mechanics of putting pen to 
     parchment are irrelevant. The same holds true for the Supreme 
     Court. The justices have reached decisions by phone, 
     sometimes hundreds of miles away from Washington. Six 
     justices are necessary to conduct business, and they have 
     concluded that voting by phone on important matters satisfies 
     that requirement.
       Congress could do something similar. The Framers perhaps 
     demanded no more than for legislators to debate and 
     collectively reach decisions in real time. The internet 
     permits that live discussion and passing laws, either by 
     voice vote or by roll call. With the advent of technology, 
     one chamber can ``assemble'' virtually on Zoom, while 
     legislators can also attend meetings in Google. A chamber can 
     sit to conduct business online.
       The more general point is that if legislators are 
     monitoring proceedings in Congress online and can vote 
     remotely, they are in ``attendance'' and can be present for 
     quorums. What is good for the president and the Supreme Court 
     must be good for Congress. There are positives and negatives 
     of remote voting, so here are two potential disadvantages.
       First, Congress will no longer have the excuse of being 
     unable to conduct business when members go back to their 
     constituencies. What was once a part time assembly may become 
     a full time legislature, where leaders call votes during such 
     inconvenient times for members. Many people do wish that 
     Congress would return to its roots as a part time 
     institution. To quote Will Rogers, ``This country has come to 
     feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby 
     gets hold of a hammer.''
       Second, though legislators do not have to pay attention to 
     floor debates even when they are physically present, one 
     might suppose that they will get more distracted if they have 
     two browsers open, one trained on the proceedings in Congress 
     and one centered on Sunday Night Football. A debate on a 
     motion to recommit would suffer compared to a drive down the 
     field in the final minute of the fourth quarter.
       But there would be one positive that overwhelms these 
     drawbacks. Last week, six members exercised the collective 
     authority of the Senate and passed the $484 billion 
     appropriation. Though the Constitution declares that a 
     majority of each chamber would be a quorum to do business, 
     the Senate had nothing like a quorum for this vote. Under 
     current practices, however, both chambers assume a quorum, an 
     assumption that can be overcome only if some legislators will 
     call for it.
       That assumption is almost as mistaken as supposing that 
     lobbyists exist to further the public good. The Constitution 
     decrees that the chambers can pass a bill only if there is

[[Page H2025]]

     a quorum. Members cannot just avert their gaze from this 
     violation of the Constitution. The minimum mandate for 
     passing legislation is not waivable. To pass legislation in a 
     chamber, the presence of at least a majority of the voting 
     members is required.
       With a move to virtual sessions, Congress could cut the 
     embarrassment of a handful of legislators passing 
     legislation. If bills are uncontroversial, the chambers can 
     meet online, and the majority in each can pass them. All in 
     all, the move to remote voting could generate a salutary 
     reform and also eliminate at least one excrescence of the 
  Mr. McGOVERN. In his piece, the professor says: The more general 
point is that if legislators are monitoring proceedings in Congress 
online and can vote remotely, they are in `attendance' and can be 
present for quorums. What is good for the President and the Supreme 
Court must be good for Congress.''
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. 
  Mr. COHEN. Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the debate, and I 
have been really amazed at what I have heard from the other side. They 
said the military goes into battle, or is ready to go, and they don't 
let these things bother them.
  The military doesn't have a great majority of their members who are 
65 years of age and older. And when they do have members that are 65 
years of age and older, and they have morbidity systems or past 
incidents that make them more likely to get a disease, they don't send 
them into battle. They take care of them. They don't put them out there 
in harm's way.
  Some people talked about the Senate. Lamar Alexander came up, and he 
got exposed to coronavirus from a staff member, so he had to go back to 
Maryville. Rand Paul came up. He got exposed, took a test, still swam 
in the Senate pool, exposed everybody over there to COVID, and came 
back positive.
  So, it is not about the Senate. This makes good sense.
  One of our best epidemiologists said that the best place you could 
find to get the coronavirus is indoors in an enclosed room with a lot 
of people and a lot of talk. That is the definition of Congress. 
Washington is a hot spot; it is under a stay-at-home order; and you are 
not supposed to meet in groups of more than 10 people. We are more than 
10. And if they expand it, we will be up to the level of 50, which is 
maybe the next level.
  We are just protecting our Members and protecting their loved ones 
and protecting their constituents.
  This is a good law. It gives people a chance to vote. We have Members 
who are going through chemotherapy now. The great John Lewis is going 
through chemotherapy. That means he cannot come up here and vote. That 
should not be the facts.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Arkansas (Mr. Hill).
  Mr. HILL of Arkansas. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this rule 
  Rather than taking time to implement a bipartisan plan to safely open 
this House and our work on the Hill, as suggested by the Republican 
leader, the House majority is taking the lazy way out.
  The U.S. Constitution and 200 years of precedent require a physical 
presence to establish a quorum to protect all Members' rights and the 
rights of the Americans who vote for these Members.
  If we pass this rule change today and make attendance optional, we 
are taking away the fundamental nature of our government of elected 
Members of the House representing our citizens.
  Since the first Congress, through it all--bad roads, bad weather, 
invasion, and the burning of this very Capitol, Civil War, and 
depression--Members have assembled to do the people's business.
  Our Founders intended that legislating be hard but fair. Our Founders 
compelled the people's representatives to assemble, to collaborate, to 
find a way forward. This rule will only make it harder to find that 
consensus during these times.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to reject this unnecessary 
change to the House rules.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, let me remind my colleagues what the 
minority leader did suggest, and that is that all of us get 
preferential treatment, in terms of testing, that we all be tested 
regularly when we come back here, like they do in the White House; that 
even though our constituents can't get tested, even though our hospital 
workers and those who work in homeless shelters and in food pantries 
can't get tested, and our first responders can't all get tested, the 
minority leader suggested that: You know, you are all so special here 
that you should move to the front of the line.
  Well, I don't know what people in your districts think, but my 
constituents think that is tone-deaf, that, quite frankly, we don't 
deserve preferential treatment. But that is what he suggested.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. 
Raskin), a distinguished member of the Rules Committee.
  Mr. RASKIN. Mr. Speaker, I salute the chairman for his determination 
to keep the American Government going through this period, and that is 
what this resolution is about, the continuity of Congress and the 
continuity of government. We are here to keep the great American 
experiment in democratic self-government alive through the pandemic, 
through the crisis.
  The first sentence of the Constitution, the Preamble, says:

       We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, 
     establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for 
     the common defense, promote the general welfare, and preserve 
     to ourselves and our posterity the blessings of liberty, do 
     hereby ordain and establish the Constitution of the United 

  The very next sentence vests all legislative power to us, in Article 
I, in the Congress, and gives us the right to determine the rules of 
our own proceedings.
  That is what the Supreme Court calls a political question. It cannot 
be second-guessed by the Senate. It cannot be second-guessed by the 
President. It cannot be second-guessed even by the Supreme Court. It is 
up to us what our rules of proceeding are going to be.
  Mr. Speaker, I have watched the debate, and one can only regard with 
amazement the full outrage summed up by our colleagues who display 
great reservoirs of self-righteousness. And it is amazing to me because 
the same Members have been operating for many years, for term after 
term, under the current rule, first adopted by a Republican-majority 
House, which allows two Members to form a working quorum.
  I repeat: The current rule, which this body has ratified repeatedly, 
was adopted by a Republican majority, allowing two Members to 
constitute a working quorum.

  So, how can anyone who has blithely accepted that state of affairs, 
when it would have been very easy to do something about it--there was 
no pandemic and no plague let loose on the land, with 86,000 people 
dead and tens of millions of unemployed. They did nothing about it, but 
now they want to suddenly turn on the proposal necessary to guarantee 
the continuity of the U.S. Government in which the numerical quorum 
majority rule is scrupulously observed through the well-known and well-
accepted proxy system. This rule preserves the vote and the voice of 
each and every Member of the House.
  Unlike the two-Member quorum rule, which was put into place by a 
Republican majority, our rule is based on effectuating the will and the 
vote of every Member. The proxies must be cast in strict accordance 
with the will of the Member, with no discretion, and no room for 
  Mr. Speaker, I expect to be a proxy because I live about a half hour 
away from here. I will cast the proxy vote exactly as given to me. And 
if I were to decide I know better than the person I am voting for, that 
should be the subject of ethical proceedings. I am nothing more than a 
letter carrier.
  This is what the Congress needs to do. The American people expect 
nothing less from us. Let's keep the Government of the United States in 
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Gohmert), my great friend and distinguished Member.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, let me just read from the Constitution.
  Article I, Section 5: ``Each House shall be the judge of the 
elections, returns and qualifications of its own Members, and a 
majority of each shall constitute a quorum.''

[[Page H2026]]

  You can't pass a bill on this floor with proxies and have it upheld 
unless you change the Constitution, and this doesn't do it.
  Now, some here say: But if it saves one life, it is worth it. How 
about the million Americans who laid down their lives not for a wishy-
washy, ``Oh, maybe we should be afraid. We might get something and 
die.'' They didn't do that in the Spanish flu days. They didn't do it 
in the Civil War. But now we are going to do it. Come on.
  There were people that died, saying things like: ``Live free or 
die.'' And now, we are going to amend the Constitution with a House 
rule. That is ridiculous.
  If you are going to destroy 40 million lives and livelihoods, at 
least have the courage to come here and do it in person.
  You didn't let the Member from Georgia do it years ago. You denied 
that, and I felt like you were right. We have to preserve the 
Constitution, not abuse it with a House rule.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to address their 
remarks to the Chair.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I include in the Record a letter from Deborah Pearlstein, a 
constitutional law professor from Cardozo School of Law.

                                                  Cardozo Law,

                                                   April 16, 2020.
       Dear Chairman McGovern: Thank you for your statement today 
     recommending the implementation of temporary remote voting 
     procedures in Congress during this tragic pandemic. As a 
     professor of constitutional law, and a scholar who has 
     written extensively on separation of powers issues in U.S. 
     Government, I believe adopting procedures to allow for remote 
     voting under these extraordinary circumstances is not only 
     lawful, but essential to the maintenance of our 
     constitutional democracy. Recognizing that specific 
     procedures for remote voting may still be in development, the 
     analysis offered here focuses foremost on the broad scope of 
     Congress' constitutional authority to regulate its voting 
       As with much else in the Constitution, the description the 
     text provides of how Congress is to fulfill its legislative 
     ``duties'' once members have been elected is relatively 
     brief. Article I, Section 5 provides that there must be ``a 
     Quorum to do business,'' which the Constitution defines as 
     constituting simply ``a Majority'' of each House. The same 
     Section likewise specifies that each House must keep a 
     ``Journal of its Proceedings,'' which must be published 
     ``from time to time,'' and which may, if a sufficient number 
     of members desire, reflect how every member voted ``on any 
     question.'' The Constitution adds that neither House can 
     adjourn for more than three days, or move the session to some 
     other place, without the consent of the other House--a 
     provision designed to prevent a single House from thwarting 
     all congressional action by simply absenting themselves 
       There can be little question that the Framers imagined the 
     legislature would do its work while assembled in some 
     physical location. In 1787 when the Constitution was drafted, 
     they could scarcely have imagined any other functional way of 
     proceeding. Various other constitutional provisions thus 
     refer to Congress as ``meeting'' (Art. I, Sec. 4) or 
     ``assembling'' (Art. I, Sec. 3), and one even provides a 
     mechanism by which members can compel ``the Attendance of 
     absent Members,'' (Art. I, Sec. 5) meaning presumably those 
     members not otherwise present where Congress is meeting. Of 
     course, none of the clauses in which those terms appear 
     address how Congress casts or counts its votes. Indeed, 
     neither the document itself nor any Supreme Court decision 
     defines what counts as ``attendance'' or ``assembling,'' much 
     less how such ``attendance'' may be taken, or such 
     ``assemblage'' may be accomplished. The Constitution equally 
     contains no specific requirement of physical presence for 
     Members to vote. What the Constitution does instead--as the 
     courts have repeatedly recognized--is leave it up to each 
     House of Congress to ``determine the Rules of its 
     Proceedings.'' (Art. I, Sec. 5) As the Supreme Court 
     explained in United States v. Ballin, 144 U.S. 1 (1892), so 
     long as there is a ``reasonable relation between the mode or 
     method of proceeding established by the rule and the result 
     which is sought to be attained,'' the content of those rules 
     are ``beyond the challenge of any other body or tribunal.''
       Indeed, it is just such constitutional flexibility that has 
     enabled Congress to embrace the various informal solutions it 
     has adopted over the years to ``do business,'' including 
     relying on members to give ``unanimous consent'' to a vote 
     even if something less than an actual majority of members is 
     physically present on the House floor. But while such well 
     settled procedures are surely constitutional, they may not 
     always function to advance the system of majority rule the 
     Constitution so plainly contemplates. As we recently saw when 
     Congress enacted a substantial stimulus bill just last month, 
     it is possible for one House member, acting alone, to single-
     handedly defeat the manifest preference of the bipartisan 
     majority by insisting upon an actual demonstration that a 
     majority of members were ``present'' (a term contained in 
     House Rules, not in the Constitution itself). This forced 
     House leaders to make a choice the Constitution cannot be 
     understood to compel--between surrendering the will of the 
     majority to the demands of a single man, or insisting, as 
     they did, that Members jeopardize their safety (and thus 
     their ability to effectively represent their constituents 
     going forward) by defying lawful public health restrictions 
     to travel and meet in Washington, D.C.
       It is precisely in order to avoid such absurd results that 
     Congress has embraced a variety of measures throughout its 
     history to adjust to developing technologies and changing 
     demands. Thus, for example, current House Rules provide that 
     in the event the existing electronic voting system is 
     ``inoperable,'' the Speaker may direct the vote to be 
     conducted through alternative methods, including through the 
     use of ``tellers'' designated by the Speaker to ``record the 
     names of the Members voting on each side of the question.'' 
     The teller system was an innovation put in place before the 
     current electronic system was available, one among key 
     reforms designed to strengthen Congress' ability to maintain 
     a public record of Members' votes. The particular challenge 
     of ensuring that Congress could continue to operate during 
     the outbreak of infectious disease was indeed the subject of 
     one of Congress's first efforts to provide for alternative 
     rules of operation. Following Congress' return after the 
     yellow fever epidemic that devastated the then-capital of 
     Philadelphia in the summer of 1793, Congress adopted a law 
     providing that in circumstances when ``the prevalence of 
     contagious sickness'' made it ``be hazardous to the lives or 
     health of the members to meet at the seat of Government,'' 
     the President could ``convene Congress at such other place as 
     he may judge proper.'' If Congress can delegate to the 
     President the power to move congressional operations 
     entirely, surely it can reserve for itself the lesser power 
     to make whatever far more modest amendment to process is 
     required to ensure Congress is able to vote in the same, 
     extraordinary circumstances.
       Finally, the temporary remote voting procedures as you have 
     sketched them thus far appear to bear an entirely 
     ``reasonable relation'' to the goal you aim to achieve, 
     namely, ensuring that Congress preserves the ability to vote 
     in a way that maintains the institution's representative 
     character, protects the transparency of its operations, and 
     fairly and accurately reflects the will of the American 
     people. By keeping remote voting procedures tied as closely 
     as possible to the existing system, the proposed approach 
     protects Members' ability to participate in votes regardless 
     of geographic location, technical knowledge or means; 
     minimizes the risk of foreign or other unlawful interference 
     in the vote; and maximizes Congress's ability to fairly 
     reflect the will of the majority of the people even during 
     the present crisis. The proposed approach contains essential 
     safeguards to ensure that Members' preferences are fully and 
     accurately recorded; as you emphasized in your recent 
     statement, Members designated to submit voting cards on 
     behalf of other elected Representatives may only act pursuant 
     to the direct, express instruction of the elected 
     Representative, retaining no discretion in carrying out the 
     ministerial function they play in the modified voting 
     process. As ever, Members remain subject to all the 
     disciplinary powers the House possesses to ensure the 
     appropriate exercise of their duties.
       In short, with limited reforms that maximize Members' 
     ability to represent the wishes of their constituents, while 
     minimizing disruption and confusion in House operations, 
     Congress can succeed in preserving the essential 
     constitutional function of the legislative branch even amidst 
     an unprecedented pandemic. It is a critically important 
     initiative in these extraordinary times.
       As ever, I thank you for your efforts, and for the 
     opportunity to share my views.
                                            Deborah N. Pearlstein,
                                                 Professor of Law.
  Mr. McGOVERN. In her letter, which I strongly recommend all of my 
colleagues should read in full, she says: ``I believe adopting 
procedures to allow for remote voting under these extraordinary 
circumstances is not only lawful, but essential to the maintenance of 
our constitutional democracy.''
  The Constitution contains no specific requirements of physical 
presence for Members to vote. What the Constitution does instead, as 
the courts have repeatedly recognized, is leave it up to each House of 
Congress to ``determine the rules of its proceedings.''
  The gentleman refers to the Spanish flu. Let me just say that that is 
not an example of something we want to aspire to. The Congress was 
basically paralyzed. They couldn't even get together to pass a bill to 
provide more doctors to rural areas where people were dying. They 
couldn't even do that. And as a result of Congress' inaction, more 
people died in that pandemic. So, please, I mean, let's get real here.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. 

[[Page H2027]]


  Mr. LANGEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  I rise in strong support of this resolution and commend Chairman 
McGovern for overseeing this deliberative and well thought-out process.
  The proposed changes to the House rules are absolutely necessary to 
ensure that Members of Congress can continue our vital legislative and 
oversight functions while protecting public health.
  Now, I strongly believe that we need a more comprehensive, full e-
Congress capability to be developed for conducting congressional 
business in the future only in times of emergency if we are unable to 
meet in Washington, D.C. However, I also believe that there are very 
real cybersecurity concerns that must be addressed before such a system 
will go live.
  In the meantime, this resolution appropriately allows for in-person 
proxy voting during the duration of this public health emergency, and 
it holds open the possibility of remote voting if a secure system can 
be developed and verified for full House floor proceedings.
  In the meantime, this step, of course, cannot be the end of our 
conversations on continuity of Congress. We do need a permanent 
framework that will account for remote congressional operations in the 
event or possibility of death or incapacitation of a significant number 
of representatives.
  This is the 21st century. We should be able to do this in the future. 
I look forward to continuing to work with Chairman McGovern to address 
this issue going forward.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Tennessee (Mr. John W. Rose).
  Mr. JOHN W. ROSE of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, today, I am standing up 
for those who have stood up for this Nation throughout the current 
crisis: nurses, doctors, farmers, truck drivers, food service workers, 
distribution and supply chain workers, the millions of Americans who 
can't stay home and expect our country to survive.
  Haven't we learned our lesson about outsourcing? Apparently not. Now, 
some of the Members of this House want to outsource their votes as 
  I will be voting ``no'' on this resolution, and I would encourage 
those ready to hand over their votes to someone else to just go ahead 
and hand over their seats to someone else.
  With unemployment the way it is, I would bet that there are more than 
a few people back home in your district who would gladly accept your 
$174,000-a-year job and find a way to get to Washington and push a 
  I will vote ``no.''

                              {time}  1330

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I insert in the Record letters and statements of support for H. Res. 
965 from Chairman Pallone, Representative Thompson, and Representative 
                                         House of Representatives,

                             Committee on Energy and Commerce,

                                     Washington, DC, May 14, 2020.
     Re H. Res. 965.

     Hon. James P. McGovern,
     Chairman, Committee on Rules,
     House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman McGovern: I write to you in support of H. 
     Resolution 965, which would authorize voting by proxy in the 
     House of Representatives and provide for official remote 
     committee proceedings. By temporarily enabling committees to 
     convene official proceedings remotely, this measure ensures 
     that the Committee on Energy and Commerce can continue to 
     conduct its important legislative, oversight, and fact-
     finding work during these extraordinary times.
       I greatly appreciate the work of the House Rules Committee 
     under your leadership in drafting and putting forward this 
     very important measure. Our Committee will work diligently to 
     ensure that each of our Members can participate remotely, to 
     the greatest extent practicable, from different locations, at 
     our noticed committee and subcommittee hearings, markups, 
     depositions and other business meetings--some or all of which 
     may be virtual in nature.
       Thank you in advance for any further support you can 
     provide us in the way of Committee-specific regulations or in 
     addressing any questions that surface as we implement and put 
     these temporary rules and regulations into practice.
           Respectfully submitted,
                                               Frank Pallone, Jr.,

                                     House of Representatives,

                                     Washington, DC, May 13, 2020.
     Hon. Jim McGovern,
     Chairman, House Committee on Rules,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman McGovern: I write to express my strong 
     support for proxy voting and allowing for flexibility, during 
     these unprecedented times.
       The COVID-19 pandemic has created never before seen 
     challenges to the operation of government and the ability of 
     the House to conduct business. Not only are Member's health 
     and safety at risk but the security and integrity of the 
     House of Representatives, is as well. I commend you and your 
     committee for diligently addressing these challenges with 
     integrity and the dedicated intent to ensure the House can 
     conduct the People's business in a safe and secure manner.
       This pandemic has drastically changed how our communities 
     operate. Many local governments and small business have 
     adjusted their operations and the House of Representatives 
     must do the same. Again, I commend you and your Committee for 
     your work and I wholeheartedly support proxy voting and 
     allowing for flexibility, during these extreme times.
                                                    Mike Thompson,
     Member of Congress.

                                     House of Representatives,

                                     Washington, DC, May 13, 2020.
     Hon. James P. McGovern,
     Chairman, House Rules Committee,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Tom Cole,
     Ranking Member, House Rules Committee,
     Washington, DC.
       Chairman McGovern, Ranking Member Cole, and Members of the 
     Rules Committee: Thank you for this opportunity to comment on 
     the very important proposals for remote voting.
       Today we face a health crisis unknown in our lifetimes--a 
     virus that spreads easily among us, that can hide itself as 
     asymptomatic for a time can suddenly turn deadly. We have no 
     vaccine to create herd immunity, nor a treatment nor cure, 
     nor even enough tests to tell us who's got it and who 
     doesn't. So all we can do to protect ourselves now and for 
     the foreseeable future, and to keep our health care system 
     from being overwhelmed, is to separate ourselves. That's how 
     we lower the chance that the virus spreads. That's why 
     governors and mayors across the country have ordered us to 
     stay at home, to work from home, and to avoid travel if we 
       That's exactly what Congress did when we passed the CARES 
     Act on March 27th. Our leadership from both parties worked to 
     pass the bill on unanimous consent, and when one member 
     objected, we achieved a quorum with members who could travel 
     safely, often by driving alone in their cars. We encouraged 
     other members to stay away from planes and airports and each 
     other. By the way, that conveyed to the public that we in 
     Congress understood the health challenge--we were aware that 
     every time Members of Congress travel from across the country 
     to Washington, DC, we put each other, our staff, Capitol 
     Police and other workers, our families and ultimately our 
     constituents at risk of infection.
       Since then, conditions in Washington DC have become more 
     dangerous--it's one of our nation's COVID hot spots. It's 
     high time for us to do what we've asked--and others have 
     ordered--our constituents to do. Figure out how to work from 
       I've heard the argument from Senate Leader McConnell and 
     from some Democrats that because we ask people on the front 
     lines to go to work, that we lawmakers have to show up in DC 
     to work. But that argument misses the point. Some people--
     essential workers--can't stay home. If you are a doctor or a 
     nurse, or someone who cleans hospital rooms, you have to go 
     to the hospital to do your job. If you are a grocery clerk or 
     checker, you have to go to the grocery store to do your job. 
     If you are a fire fighter, or a police officer or an EMT, you 
     have to go where people are in harm's way to do your job.
       But if you're an accountant, or a lawyer, or a billing 
     clerk or any other office worker--your job is still very 
     important--but we've ordered you to stay home, because the 
     technology available today makes it possible for you to do 
     your job from your home. It's not great, but it's a way 
     Americans have stepped up to make it work, and not to become 
     vectors for the spread of this disease.
       We in Congress are not first responders. Fundamentally, we 
     have office jobs--very important office jobs that a lot of 
     people depend on--but office jobs, consisting of phone calls, 
     meetings, and more meetings. Like the rest of America, we can 
     have our meetings electronically. We should live by the same 
     rules we impose on other American office workers.
       We are public servants, a concept reflected in the joint 
     statement by Speaker Pelosi and Leader McConnell to reject 
     the President's offer to supply Congress with test kits. Of 
     course, Congress should not take test kits from hospital 
     workers, first responders or grocery workers. Nor should we 
     continue to travel and meet in a way that heightens the risk 
     for those same people. We should follow the lead of American 
     businesses, nonprofits, religious institutions and families 
     who have found ways to communicate effectively and to make 
     decisions over the phone, or in a variety of computer forums.
       Tradition can be honorable, as it is in Congress. But 
     tradition can be a dinosaur and can hurt and slow progress. 
     Some traditions

[[Page H2028]]

     should never be abandoned. I would never give up the 
     opportunity in the ordinary course of our business to see you 
     all face to face, to work with you in committees, to see you 
     twice a day on the House floor, and even to grab dinner after 
     work. But in the face of this once in a lifetime global 
     pandemic, we need to overcome the default position--that the 
     way we've always done it is the only way it can be done. 
     Congress has adapted to jet travel, to electronic voting and 
     to making our work public on CSPAN. We can adapt to remote 
       It will be difficult, but not as difficult as we might 
     imagine. Just look at how the remote skeptics propose we 
     conduct our business. We would fly from across the country, 
     making connections and taking transportation from Dulles 
     Airport or Baltimore Washington International. Then we would 
     isolate ourselves in our DC residences. Then, if we live too 
     far to walk or don't have a car in DC, we would take transit 
     or be driven to our offices, and we would isolate there. And 
     to participate in our committees, we would make a phone call 
     from our office in Rayburn or Longworth or Cannon to the 
     committee room. Yet all of us have phones in our homes in our 
     districts, and any of us could call the committees from 
       We've also heard that in person committee meetings will 
     take up a tremendous amount of physical space. For our larger 
     committees, like Transportation and Infrastructure or Armed 
     Services, only the House chamber is big enough. If all of our 
     committees were to meet in person, it would be impossible for 
     them to meet at the same times. Remote participation is 
     probably the only practical way to allow all committees to 
     function at the same time, and thereby for all members to 
     participate in the legislative process on behalf or their 
     millions of constituents.
       Remote voting is not cowardice. It's leadership. In the 
     face of this pandemic, getting Congress to work remotely is 
     an example for the rest of the country that meets this 
     moment. Let us live by the same rules we impose on our fellow 
     citizens. Let's find a way that allows all of our 
     constituents to have a voice. Let's show by our action that 
     we ourselves take this threat seriously.
       I thank you for your leadership in this difficult moment.
                                                  Scott H. Peters,
                                               Member of Congress.

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the gentleman who 
previously spoke says he wants to extend it for nurses, doctors, and 
teachers. He has a chance to do that in the next bill we are going talk 
about because there is money in there to provide them more assistance 
in terms of testing and treatment and tracing and more money there for 
PPE. But my guess is the gentleman is going to vote ``no'' on that.
  The same people who are out here talking about being brave and 
standing up with our first responders are the same people whose leader 
has said that his proposal is to prioritize Members of Congress ahead 
of all of our constituents in terms of testing so we can operate here. 
I don't want to have anything to do with that. My constituents who are 
on the front lines, the doctors, the nurses, the first responders 
deserve to be tested before anybody in this House.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentlewoman from Massachusetts 
(Mrs. Trahan).
  Mrs. TRAHAN. Mr. Speaker, this public health crisis has been 
devastating. Nearly 1.5 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and, 
tragically, more than 85,000 people have died.
  We have asked small business owners and workers in our districts to 
close up shop and stay home for months to do their part to slow the 
spread of this virus.
  Across the country, workplaces are innovating and figuring out how to 
operate while keeping pace with commonsense public health guidelines.
  Like them, Congress has an obligation to do the same. This moment 
requires us to lead by example, to show that in the face of a highly 
infectious disease we can change how we do business and still get our 
constituents the much-needed relief they desperately need, while also 
conducting proper oversight.
  I support this rule change to temporarily allow committees to conduct 
meetings remotely and to provide my colleagues with the opportunity to 
make their constituents' voices heard.
  This is the 21st century. We have an opportunity to show that we can 
use the tools at our disposal to continue congressional operations at 
full capacity while also practicing what we preach.
  This is common sense, and I would urge my colleagues to support this 
change as well.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Texas 
(Mr. Roy), my very good friend.
  Mr. ROY. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Oklahoma for yielding.
  I just ask my colleagues here: What are we doing? We have 40 million 
Americans out of work. We have serious problems we have got to address, 
and we are going to pass a bill tonight that is a clear political bill 
filled with political promises from my colleagues on the other side of 
the aisle that has no chance of being passed in its current form. And 
why aren't we debating and doing the job of this body? We have no 
  My friend from Maryland, Chairman Raskin, we served together working 
to try to protect the Constitution, and he says that we have this rule 
in here for a quorum can be two people. I agree, that is a problem.
  I don't care who is in charge of this body. We shouldn't operate that 
way. The American people want us to do our job and debate and work.
  The Constitution is pretty clear about what constitutes a quorum. You 
can trot out various words from some professors around the country that 
say otherwise, but a quorum means presence. We should be here debating. 
It matters. It matters that we look each other in the eye. It matters 
that we are here talking to each other when there are 40 million 
Americans without jobs while we sit here in Congress and don't do ours?
  We are not doing our job. While truckers carry food products, while 
people go to grocery stores, while first responders do their job, why 
aren't we doing ours? I would posit that the Constitution contemplates 
our physically being here looking each other in the eye to do our job.
  If we want to have debates about committee work being remote or 
virtual, okay, but the actual act of voting, our solemn duty to 
represent hundreds of thousands of people who put their trust in us to 
do our job, we are supposed to be here. We are supposed to work with 
each other.
  I have got a bipartisan bill right now that would help solve the 
problems, the PPP Flexibility Act, with my friend Dean Phillips from 
Minnesota. Let's debate and vote on it. Let's offer amendments. Let's 
actually have a debate in this body.
  It is supposed to be the people's House--the people's House. It is 
our job, Mr. Speaker. This is not constitutional.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  The gentleman will be happy to know he will have 2 hours of debate on 
how to help our constituents. I have a feeling he is going to vote 
``no.'' He is going to vote ``no'' to help our teachers, our first 
responders. He is going to vote ``no'' to help States, cities, and 
towns. That is unfortunate, but we are going to move it forward.
  Mr. Speaker, I insert in the Record letters and statements of support 
for H. Res. 965 from Representative Kildee, Representative Jeffries, 
and Representative Pocan.
                                    Congress of the United States,

                                     House of Representatives,

                                     Washington, DC, May 13, 2020.
     Hon. Jim McGovern,
     Chairman, Committee on Rules,
     Washington, DC.
     Hon. Tom Cole,
     Ranking Member, Committee on Rules,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman McGovern and Ranking Member Cole: We write 
     today in strong support of the H. Res. 965, which temporarily 
     implements remote voting in the full U.S. House of 
     Representatives and remote committee proceedings during this 
     public health emergency due to the coronavirus.
       Members of Congress must continue to faithfully and safely 
     execute the duties of our office while acting in accordance 
     with the social distancing guidelines outlined by medical 
     experts. The suggested temporary rules would allow for 
     Members to proxy vote on behalf of those Members who cannot 
     safely travel to Washington, D.C. This proposed proxy voting 
     system strictly governs the rules where a remote Member would 
     send a letter to the Clerk designating a proxy. Members may 
     serve as a designated proxy for up to ten Members and must 
     receive exact written instruction on each vote. While there 
     is no precedent on the House Floor for proxy voting, there is 
     precedent in House Committees, where it was in place until 
     the 104th Congress.
       The implementation of H. Res. 965 would allow committees to 
     hold virtual hearings, markups, and depositions enabling 
     Members to perform vital oversight, conduct fact finding and 
     bring legislation to the Floor. Especially during this 
     national emergency, Congress must continue to do the work of 
     American people, especially overseeing the trillions of 
     dollars allocated by the federal government so far to combat 
     the pandemic.

[[Page H2029]]

     Members also have the responsibility to model compliance with 
     the guidelines recommended by the leading science and health 
     experts without dereliction of our duties. Proxy voting 
     allows for Members to be engaged in work at the Capitol while 
     ensuring their safety and those in their communities.
       As the Congress continues to find innovate ways to remain 
     in service of the American people, I am supportive of the 
     provision in H. Res. 965 that will direct the Committee on 
     House Administration to study the use of technology to allow 
     Members to vote remotely in the House. After certification 
     has been completed determining secure and operable technology 
     for remote voting, the Rules Committee would issue guidance 
     and regulations for implementation that can be authorized by 
     the Speaker to allow Members to cast their votes remotely 
     during the time period covered by the resolution.
       We appreciate your hard work on this and the solicitation 
     of advice and ideas from Members for many weeks, including 
     members of both parties. It is our hope that these rules are 
     only necessary for a short period of time and the House of 
     Representatives can return to their normal functions in a 
     safe manner to help families and workers impacted by this 
     terrible health crisis.
       Additional Cosigners: Rep. Ed Perlmutter, Rep. Andy Levin, 
     Rep. Alan Lowenthal, Rep. Brenda Lawrence.
                                                 Daniel T. Kildee,
     Member of Congress.

                                    Congress of the United States,

                                     House of Representatives,

                                     Washington, DC, May 13, 2020.
     Hon. James P. McGovern,
     Chairman, Committee on Rules,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman McGovern: Thank you for your ongoing 
     leadership during this time of crisis. Please see my 
     statement below in support of remote voting by proxy:
       As the House continues its work during this trying time, we 
     must have a safe, secure and reliable way of conducting our 
     most essential duty--passing legislation on behalf of the 
     American people. Remote voting by proxy offers a temporary, 
     commonsense solution that will allow the House to operate 
     safely and effectively during this crisis. The proposal 
     crafted by Chairman McGovern allows committees to continue 
     their important work remotely, while also providing Members 
     with the ability to vote on legislation without the threat of 
     hacking or undue influence from bad actors. I stand in strong 
     support of the proposal and believe it is the best path 
     forward as we continue to confront this pandemic.
           Congressman Hakeem Jeffries,
     Chairman, House Democratic Caucus.

                                     House of Representatives,

                                     Washington, DC, May 14, 2020.
     Hon. Jim McGovern,
     Chairman, House Rules Committee,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman McGovern: I write in support of efforts to 
     ensure Members of Congress are able to vote on essential 
     legislation while not physically present in Washington, D.C. 
     during the coronavirus pandemic. Numerous states, including 
     the Wisconsin Legislature, and other nations, including the 
     British Parliament, have already instituted successful 
     virtual legislative meeting procedures.
       While I intend to be physically present and voting this 
     week, I know several of our colleagues will be unable to vote 
     in person due to health or travel difficulties. Foreseeing 
     this eventuality, the Congressional Progressive Caucus issued 
     a Whip Question to its Members several weeks ago to measure 
     support for instituting virtual voting in the House of 
     Representatives. Responses from the Caucus were 
     overwhelmingly in support.
       I support remote voting efforts in Congress in whatever 
     form they may take, and plan to vote in favor of implementing 
     legislation when it is presented to the full U.S. House of 
     Representatives. I thank you for your friendship and look 
     forward to continuing to work together on this and other 

                                                   Mark Pocan,

                                               Member of Congress,
                                     Co-Chair, Progressive Caucus.

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  We cannot do and cannot do--and how many times can I say it?--we 
cannot stand here and do nothing.
  The Constitution has no provision that prohibits this body from doing 
something to avoid a catastrophe of not being able to govern this 
  My friends who were here during the heinous tragedy of 9/11 remember 
that we had a continuity committee and put in a provision of the rules 
under Republican leadership of what would constitute a quorum.
  But let me say this, my friends. No one is telling you not to be 
present, but what it does say is that we are prepared, we will not 
panic. We are prepared in case a catastrophic resurgence of COVID-19 
comes in the fall as the scientists have said.
  And, no, no proxy is going to dominate this floor. A proxy is 
directed by the Member, and they must specifically, on each vote, tell 
you what to do. Those directions are specific.
  At the same time, no Member is prohibited, as I said, from coming to 
this floor. Eleanor Roosevelt said: ``One thing I believe profoundly: 
We make our own history.'' That is what we are doing. We are making our 
history so that we can serve the American public.
  Do you think truck drivers and first responders want us to collapse 
and not pass a bill that provides for them so they will not be 
furloughed and fired? They want us to do our job.
  Thomas Paine said, ``times that try men's souls.'' This is a 
constitutional process. It allows for us to proceed and govern this 
Nation without an interruption.
  We have seen Members who are COVID-19 positive. It can happen to a 
predominant number of Members. How, then, will we respond? We need to 
respond with the exact idea that has been promoted and put forward in 
this resolution.
  Let me also acknowledge the fact that 36 million have filed for 
unemployment; 85,000 have died. It is projected 134,000 will die. That 
is why we have done prison dollars. That is why we put the heroes money 
in so that we don't have people seeking to eat.
  Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record an article entitled ``City 
Staring Down $169 Million Budget Gap'' and an article from the Houston 
Chronicle entitled ``Universal testing for coronavirus is a national 
security issue.

               [From, May 13, 2020]

                   City Staring Down $169M Budget Gap

                (By Jasper Scherer and Dylan McGuinness)

       Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, facing an economy hammered 
     by the coronavirus pandemic and collapsing oil prices, on 
     Tuesday proposed to close an upcoming budget gap by 
     furloughing about 3,000 municipal workers, deferring all 
     police cadet classes and exhausting the city's entire $20 
     million ``rainy day'' fund.
       The proposals are in response to an estimated $169 million 
     revenue shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
       Emptying the rainy day fund ``leaves the city in a 
     precarious state for the upcoming hurricane season,'' the 
     mayor acknowledged in a message to city council members that 
     accompanied his budget plan. The account hold money in 
     reserve for emergency situations, such as cash flow shortages 
     and major disasters.
       The city had just recently replenished the fund after using 
     all $20 million in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. It will not 
     have that option if a storm hits Houston this year.
       ``The dollars from the economic stabilization fund are 
     gone,'' Turner said. ``There is no rainy day fund.''
       Under Turner's plan, the city also would draw $83 million 
     from its cash reserves to balance the budget.
       The city's tax- and fee-supported general fund, which 
     covers most basic city operations, would spend $2.53 billion 
     under Turner's plan, a decrease of about 1 percent from the 
     current budget. Despite the narrow spending cut, the city 
     would be left with a general fund balance that dips below the 
     amount required by city ordinance.
       Turner said the rule makes an exception ``in the event of 
     economic instability beyond the city's control.''
       Houston is expected to lose nearly $100 million in sales 
     tax revenue during current fiscal year and the one beginning 
     in July, due in part to a precipitous drop in oil prices, 
     along with the closure of bars, restaurants and other 
     businesses during the pandemic.
       The overall city budget, including services that are funded 
     by dedicated fees and utility charges, is $5.1 billion, a 
     slight increase from the current budget.
       The proposed spending plan, which is subject to approval by 
     city council, only says that the city would furlough 
     ``thousands of municipal employees.'' At a news conference 
     Tuesday, Turner said the number would be around 3,000 of the 
     city's nearly 21,000 employees. The workers would forego 10 
     days of paying the city roughly $7 million.
       Turner did not specify which departments would be required 
     to send workers home without pay, though he said the city 
     would not place anyone on furlough from the police, fire and 
     solid waste management departments.
       The city will implement any cuts until the new fiscal year 
     begins July 1, Turner said.
       The bulk of the city's operating budget is devoted to 
     paying roughly 5,200 police officers and nearly 3,800 
     firefighters. Public safety would account for 59 percent of 
     the general fund under the proposal, and usually about 90 
     percent of the police and fire departments' costs are devoted 
     to personnel. Both departments would see modest increases of 
     about 2 percent in spending under Turner's plan, with police 
     climbing to $930.6 million and the fire department to $516.9 
       The departments seeing the biggest cuts in their operation 
     budgets include Public

[[Page H2030]]

     Works ($4.5 million, or 14.3 percent of its budget); Parks 
     and Recreation ($10.4 million, 13 percent); and Solid Waste 
     ($4.5 million, 4.8 percent).
       Turner's budget plan could undergo significant changes, the 
     mayor said Tuesday, if Congress allows local governments to 
     spend COVID-19 stimulus funds to make up for lost tax 
     revenue. Houston received $404 million from the roughly $2 
     trillion coronavirus stimulus package and for now is barred 
     from spending it on previously budgeted expenses, though city 
     officials may identify some public safety expenses related to 
     the pandemic that can be covered with federal aid, Turner 
       ``More than likely you will see additional dollars flowing 
     into this budget in the next couple of weeks,'' Turner said.
       The mayor already is proposing to use federal COVID-19 
     funds to cover the city's roughly $10 million annual contract 
     with the Houston Zoo, which is paid out of the general fund. 
     Turner said he also has directed the fire and police chiefs 
     to determine which of their recent operations were devoted to 
     COVID-19--spending that could be eligible for federal aid.
       Democratic lawmakers in Washington, D.C., also have sought 
     more money for state and local governments in Congress' next 
     stimulus package, though such plans have met skepticism in 
     GPO ranks.
       Even if Congress gives Houston officials more flexibility 
     to spend the funds, Turner said the $404 million will not 
     cover all the city's COVID-19 expenses and lost revenue. The 
     city already is projected to spend about $200 million on 
     testing, contact tracing and other health expenses, Turner 
     said, while putting additional funds toward rental assistance 
     and programs to help homeless Houstonians.
       ``The $404 (million), though it seems like a big number, 
     it's not big at all considering the needs that exist,'' 
     Turner said. ``Just because we may be able to pull dollars 
     from what we have received, it doesn't mean that there will 
     be sufficient dollars to do it.''
       If the federal government does provide more money, Turner 
     said his first priority would be to reinstate the police 
     cadet classes, which would cost $14 million. Next on the list 
     would be eliminating furloughs and refilling the city's 
       Cities across the country already have slashed large chunks 
     of their payrolls, placing workers on furlough, laying off 
     employees and implementing hiring freezes. As many as 1 
     million municipal workers may be laid off or placed on 
     furlough, according to the National League of Cities.

               [From the Houston Chronical, May 6, 2020]

     Universal Testing for Coronavirus Is a National Security Issue

                      (By Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee)

       Most Americans are not fully aware how up to now the United 
     States has been so effective at preventing, combating, and 
     mitigating outbreaks of infectious disease. We have been able 
     to do this because of the expertise and responsiveness of 
     superb institutions, independent agencies and offices 
     throughout the federal government that effectively dealt with 
     Ebola, H1N1, Zika, SARS and MERS.
       I was alarmed by news reports in late December 2019 of a 
     new or novel coronavirus. By January, the machinery of 
     government with its unparalleled ability to project power 
     globally, galvanize our allies, and coordinate peer 
     competitors in the field of science and technology should 
     have activated to provide all needed resources and assistance 
     to China to contain the disease. This was not a China 
     problem; it was a global threat requiring a global response.
       So early the next month, on Feb. 10, I held a press 
     conference to raise public awareness on the emerging threat 
     posed. Two weeks later, on Feb. 24, I called another press 
     conference to urge that testing be given the highest priority 
     in battling the spread of the new coronavirus and the 
     sickness it causes called COVID-19. And I continue to 
     champion testing as the tool that federal, state, tribal and 
     territorial governments must embrace to support our COVID-19 
     economic recovery.
       We are at the beginning of May and testing is still 
     urgently needed. There cannot be further delay in acting. If 
     we cannot see COVID-19 there is no way to stop it. If we do 
     not dramatically increase testing, we will remain prisoners 
     of COVID-19 until we have a vaccine widely available, which 
     is not expected to occur until early 2021.
       As the nation does battle with COVID-19 it is not the role 
     of public policy makers to determine acceptable losses of 
     civilian lives. Although in military battles commanders must 
     calculate acceptable losses as part of battle plans, none of 
     these calculations are based on the intentional sacrifice of 
     lives. Any commander thought to have unnecessarily cost the 
     lives of soldiers or civilians through their actions or 
     decisions would face severe consequences. If the decisions 
     are not driven by public health, but by economic interest, 
     this is the wrong calculation. The economic injury caused by 
     COVID-19 is because there has been and continues to be 
     insufficient testing to check its spread.
       Decisions to open state economies seem to want to place 
     responsibility upon small business owners who decide to 
     reopen without making clear what the consequences may be to 
     them if even one case of COVID-19 occurs among their 
     employees or customers.
       For this reason, I have partnered with Houston hospitals, 
     local public health agencies, local businesses and 
     international corporations to promote the provision of 
     community-based COVID-19 testing sites to assist in this 
     critical first step in stopping COVID-19's unchecked spread 
     in local communities.
       The economic and health security of the nation hinges on 
     getting testing in every community so that we can shine a 
     light on where COVID-19 is and where it is not present. The 
     lack of testing early on and the continued lack of testing is 
     costing trillions in lost economic output and it will 
     continue to cost much more as we struggle to save lives 
     through social distancing and providing adequate universal 
     access to COVID-19 medical treatment, equipment and PPE to 
     protect medical personnel as well as essential workers.
       The United States needs to meet or exceed the recovery rate 
     of other nations around the globe so that our national 
     economy can benefit as the global economy recovers. This will 
     happen once we demonstrate that our nation can do the hard 
     work of implementing successful testing, contact tracing and 
     social distance programs. Other nations including our own 
     will not tolerate reinfections once they are under control 
     because a COVID-19 infection anywhere is a threat to people 
     living everywhere.
       The virus that causes COVID-19 is less than five months old 
     and it has rocked the world with its arrival. If this new 
     coronavirus is under active transmission in communities, it 
     could continue to evolve. This is the reason we must do the 
     hard job of stopping this virus and do it sooner than later.
       There are six actions that can be taken before the end of 
     the summer to make it possible for children to return to 
     school in the fall:
       1. The president should use the Defense Production Act to 
     produce enough of the COVID-19 15-minute test recently 
     approved by the FDA for use in high risk areas like urban, 
     rural, and Native American communities and environment such 
     as food processing, warehouses, production lines or 
       2. Target COVID-19 pandemic aid to communities based upon 
     mortality not just known infections;
       3. Equip health care professionals with enough PPE to 
     provide home health visits to the elderly who will need more 
     engagement than telemedicine can provide to ensure their 
     health and welfare;
       4. Provide 100 percent paid medical leave for persons who 
     themselves or someone in their household have one or more of 
     the known risk factors that make COVID-19 a deadly threat;
       5. Implement robust contact tracing efforts to ensure that 
     every infection is tracked and those who may have been 
     infected are identified; and
       6. Prepare contingencies to address public emergencies such 
     as hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires in conjunction with 
     COVID-19 for known seasonal high-risk disaster areas of the 
     nation, such as along the Gulf Coast, the Mid-Atlantic, 
     Tornado Alley and fire-prone California and the Caribbean.
       A greater commitment to universal testing will save the 
     lives of hundreds of thousands of people and cost far less 
     than the economic stimulus that is very necessary as the 
     economy stagnates under the weight of COVID-19 stay at home 
     orders and quarantines. A misstep at this point can have dire 
     consequences for the lives of families, their children and 
     the elderly; and result in an even deeper impact on the 
     local, state and national economy.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, we need rural, city, local, and State 
funding and $15 million in rental assistance. We need to do this 
resolution and pass the HEROES legislation now.
  Mr. Speaker, as a senior member of the Committees on the Judiciary, 
and on Homeland Security, and the Budget, I rise in strong support of 
H. Res. 965, which authorizes the Speaker, in consultation with the 
Minority Leader, to temporarily implement remote committee proceedings 
and remote voting in the House when she has been notified by the 
Sergeant-at-Arms, in consultation with the Attending Physician, of a 
public health emergency due to the coronavirus.
  When exercised, that authority lasts for 45 days but can be extended 
if the public health emergency persists or there is a resurgence.
  Mr. Speaker, in the 231 years since the first Congress met in New 
York City on March 4, 1789, our nation has undergone and overcome many 
crises and challenges, from the presence of British troops in the 
capital city during the War of 1812, to the Civil War, World Wars I and 
II, the Spanish Flu of 1918, the Great Depression, and the Great 
Recession of 2008.
  Through it all, Americans have persevered and America has flourished 
because Americans do not give up hope or give in to despair.
  Instead of cursing the darkness, we light candles.
  Our national history is one of pride in our democracy, in a 
government of, for, and by the people, and our willingness to sacrifice 
to keep it and our ability to adapt to changing times to sustain it.
  Mr. Speaker, we are now in the midst of one of those `times that try 
men's souls,' as Thomas Paine put it two centuries ago.
  As of yesterday, there were at minimum 4,405,688 cases of COVID-19 
across the

[[Page H2031]]

globe and 1,400,500 in the United States, resulting in more than 
300,000 deaths worldwide and more than 84,985 in the United States.
  With just 4 percent of the world's population, the United States has 
one-third of the total COVID-19 cases and nearly 30 percent of deaths 
from COVID-19 globally.
  Mr. Speaker, the necessary measures taken to slow the pandemic and 
'flatten the curve' so as not to overwhelm the nation's health care 
system has also delivered a severe shock to economic activity in the 
United States.
  Yesterday, the Department of Labor reported that the number of first-
time unemployment insurance claims exceeded 2.85 million, bring the 
total number of unemployed to 36 million, shattering by orders of 
magnitude all previous marks.
  So, Mr Speaker, it is essential that this Congress act and act now to 
put in place measure that will address the public health crisis, stem 
the economic onslaught, and ameliorate the suffering and deprivation of 
individuals and communities.
  But requires that we first ensure that the Congress discharge the 
duties delegated it under the Constitution in a way that does not 
needlessly endanger Members, their staff, or any of the thousands of 
Capitol Hill personnel.
  That is the purpose and intent of H. Res. 965; to allow Members from 
across the country to continue legislating on behalf of the American 
people while adhering to the advice of medical experts and protecting 
public health.
  First, the resolution authorizes remote committee proceedings during 
the pandemic.
  During the public health emergency period, committees are authorized 
to hold virtual hearings, markups, and depositions so Members can 
perform oversight, conduct fact-finding, and prepare legislation for 
the House floor.
  Committee chairs can choose to hold entirely virtual proceedings, 
with Members participating from any location, or they can hold 
proceedings in the hearing room with some Members participating 
  Members participating remotely will count towards a quorum and be 
able to vote.
  Committees are required to use software platforms approved by the 
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for remote participation.
  Second, H. Res. 965 authorizes and implements procedures for remote 
voting on the House floor during the pandemic.
  Specifically, the resolution allows for remote voting by proxy on the 
House Floor during the public health emergency period.
  All Members voting remotely will be counted toward a quorum.
  After sending a letter to the Clerk designating a proxy, Members are 
permitted to vote remotely on any vote.
  Members voting remotely will be given 24-hours' notice before any 
final passage vote to ensure they can secure a proxy if they have not 
yet designated one.
  Mr. Speaker, it is important to emphasize that this is not a general 
proxy, rather proxies must receive exact written instruction from the 
Member voting by proxy on each vote and are required to follow that 
instruction precisely.
  To ensure transparency, a list of designated proxies will be posted 
on the Clerk's website and a list of Members voting remotely will be 
printed in the Congressional Record following each vote.
  In addition, Members' votes will be read aloud during the vote.
  Additionally, no Member can serve as a designated proxy for more than 
ten Members.
  Finally, the resolution provides for remote voting through technology 
during the pandemic, after a system is developed and certified.
  The resolution directs the chair of the House Administration 
Committee to study the feasibility of using technology to vote remotely 
in the House, and to provide certification upon a determination that 
there is operable and secure technology for remote voting.
  After the certification, the chair of the Rules Committee is directed 
to issue regulations on the implementation of remote voting and the 
Speaker is then authorized to notify the House that Members may cast 
their votes remotely during the public health emergency period covered 
by the resolution.
  Mr. Speaker, in this moment of national crisis Americans are looking 
to their government to be there for them and enact policies and take 
action that will see us through this pandemic as safely and as quickly 
as possible.
  To ensure that the House, the first branch of the co-equal but 
preeminent body vested by Article I with the power to investigate, 
legislate, and appropriate in further of the general welfare and 
national defense, remains able to discharge its constitutional duty, I 
urge all Members to join me in voting to pass H. Res. 965.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Washington (Mr. Newhouse), my good friend and former Rules Committee 
  Mr. NEWHOUSE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Article I, section 5 of the United States Constitution states that 
only a majority can constitute a quorum in order to do the business of 
the people's House. As a former member of the House Rules Committee, I 
have a deep appreciation and a commitment to the precedence and 
procedures of this hallowed body.
  But under this democratic proxy voting scheme before us today, only 
22 House Democrats would need to be present in this Chamber to pass any 
and every single bill moving forward. This is a forced consolidation of 
power to a select few insiders, and it simply does not reflect the 
values of our constitution, our history, and our Nation.
  The constituents of my Washington's Fourth Congressional District did 
not vote for their Representative to simply defer to a proxy and shirk 
the duties of serving as a U.S. Representative.
  Mr. Speaker, the American people deserve more, and I urge a ``no'' 
vote on this terribly ill-advised and unconstitutional resolution.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I insert in the Record an April 14 AP news article entitled, 
``Wisconsin Assembly OKs Virus Bill in First Virtual Session.''

              [From the Associated Press, April 14, 2020]

       Wisconsin Assembly OKs Virus Bill in First Virtual Session

                           (By Todd Richmond)

       Madison, Wis. (AP).--The Wisconsin Assembly overwhelmingly 
     approved a sweeping coronavirus relief bill Tuesday during a 
     virtual session, the first time state lawmakers have gathered 
     since the pandemic began in the United States.
       The session took place in the Assembly chamber as usual, 
     but due to concerns about spreading the virus nearly two-
     thirds of the body's 99 members attended via videoconference. 
     The Senate was to hold a similar session on Wednesday to send 
     the bill on to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
       It marked the first time in Wisconsin's 172-year history 
     that lawmakers convened a session with members participating 
     remotely. Legislative rules require lawmakers to be present 
     to debate and vote on bills but a 2009 law allows for virtual 
     sessions during disasters.
       One section of the Assembly gallery was open to the public, 
     with only 14 seats available and each spread out 6 feet 
     apart. Public seating, also 6 feet apart, was available in 
     the Capitol rotunda with speakers and TVs tuned to WisEye, 
     the Legislature's version of C-SPAN. Two large TV screens, 
     tuned to Skype, were set up on the Assembly chamber floor. 
     About 35 members sat in the chamber, all spaced several seats 
     apart. Many rows were empty. Several pages wore face masks, 
     as did Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz. He was the only 
     Democrat on the floor.
       The session got off to a slow start as Chief Clerk Pat 
     Fuller tried to call the roll. Lawmakers joined from their 
     kitchens, Capitol offices and home offices and struggled to 
     unmute themselves and register their attendance before Fuller 
     moved on to the next legislator. Some seemed amused at the 
     setup, smiling and waving to the camera. Others initially 
     appeared befuddled, apparently unable to hear or to figure 
     out how to be heard. Roll call votes took minutes as Fuller 
     asked each lawmaker individually for his or her vote. In a 
     normal world voting is almost instantaneous as lawmakers 
     signal their votes from their seats with the touch of a 
       Moments before adjourning for a 10-minute receess, Speaker 
     Pro Tempore Tyler August warned lawmakers not to touch their 
     laptops during the break because if they disconnected 
     themselves they wouldn't be able to log back in. Assembly 
     Speaker Robin Vos, one of the few legislators on the floor, 
     said setting up the virtual session was ``extremely 
     challenging'' and he hoped the Assembly would never have to 
     meet that way again.
       The process smoothed out as the session progressed. The 
     chamber ended up approving the bill 97-2.
       The legislation largely ensures that Wisconsin can capture 
     the $2.3 billion coming to the state under the federal 
     stimulus bill, including higher Medicaid payments and 
     unemployment benefits. The Legislature's budget committee 
     would be allowed to allocate up to $75 million in funding 
     during the public health emergency and up to 90 days after it 
       The measure also would waive the state's one-week waiting 
     period to receive unemployment for anyone who applies between 
     March and Feb. 7, 2021; ban certain insurers from prohibiting 
     coverage based on a COVID-19 diagnosis; ease licensing and 
     credentialing for health care workers; reduce nurse training 
     hour requirements; and render health providers immune from 
     civil liability for services provided during the pandemic. 
     Local municipalities also could choose to defer their 
     residents' property tax payments.
       Evers' administration has been working closely with Vos and 
     Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald on the bill. The 
     governor did not say Monday whether he supported the bill, 
     saying he had not reviewed it, but

[[Page H2032]]

     he hoped it wouldn't be the last action taken by the 
     Legislature to offer aid during the pandemic.
       Nineteen states had allocated more than $3 billion to 
     respond to the pandemic as of Friday, according to the 
     National Conference of State Legislatures and the Wisconsin 
     Policy Forum.
       As of Tuesday, COVID-19 had killed 170 people in Wisconsin 
     and infected more than 3,500. Among those who contracted the 
     virus and recovered is Democratic state Rep. David Bowen, of 
       Vos and Hintz were the only lawmakers who spoke about the 
     bill prior to the vote. Hintz said the Legislature should be 
     prepared to return to work on further legislation that helps 
     Evers deal with the pandemic.
       ``We should make sure we are listening, enabling and 
     supporting and giving (the Evers administration) the 
     flexibility to manage this crisis,'' he said. ``I refuse to 
     admit this is all we can do as a state.''
       But Vos cautioned against giving Evers ``blank checks'' as 
     the virus wreaks ``economic carnage'' on the state's 
     finances. He said he was disappointed the bill didn't freeze 
     state spending in fiscal year 2020-21 and lamented that state 
     workers will still get an automatic 2% raise.
       ``We have to be just like a family were the credit card use 
     is limited,'' Vos said. ``Think before we spend. Make 
     investments that are wise but not wanting.''

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I insert in the Record a May 6 Boston 
Globe article entitled, ``For the First Time in 400 Years, Mass. 
Lawmakers Vote Remotely.''

                  [From the Boston Globe, May 6, 2020]

     For the First Time in 400 Years, Mass. Lawmakers Vote Remotely

                            (By Matt Stout)

       With lawmakers dialing in from across the state, the 
     Massachusetts House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 
     remotely for the first time in the body's near 400-year 
     history, and officially relaunched formal lawmaking amid the 
     novel coronavirus pandemic.
       The historic session, which lasted roughly an hour, 
     included one substantive vote: a 157-0 roll call approving a 
     bill that would allow the state to borrow billions of dollars 
     over the next eight weeks to help pay its bills.
       It came amid a surreal scene. As a smattering of people, 
     including House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, held court in a 
     mostly empty chamber, dozens of representatives called in to 
     a network of conference call lines, where other lawmakers 
     gathered and recorded their votes.
       A livestream offered a view inside, showing a half-circle 
     of stanchions surrounding the rostrum to separate DeLeo, 
     House clerk Steve T. James, a court officer, and others--all 
     of whom were wearing masks--from the rows of seats where 
     representatives would otherwise be stationed.
       Where they actually were ran the gamut. Representative 
     William Driscoll Jr., a Milton Democrat, tweeted a photo from 
     his car parked in the Blue Hills Reservation, the livestream 
     playing from a phone propped up on his dashboard. 
     Representative Tram T. Nguyen shared a picture of her logged 
     in from a kitchen countertop. Representative Susannah Whipps 
     showed off a plate of vegetables on her Twitter feed.
       House leaders discussed for weeks how to relaunch formal 
     legislative sessions amid the spread of COVID-19, after 
     spending the better part of two months moving bills through 
     informal gatherings with no debate and where a single ``no'' 
     vote could stall legislation.
       The set of emergency rules was approved Monday, but only 
     after a heated, partisan dispute that started when House 
     minority leader Bradley H. Jones blocked the rules package, 
     arguing that it effectively limited how often most 
     representatives would be allowed to speak.
       He had accused DeLeo of using the crisis to ``achieve more 
     power,'' while the Winthrop Democrat lashed out at what he 
     called the Republicans' ``recklessness and fiscal 
     irresponsibility.'' (The House couldn't pass the borrowing 
     bill unless the House held a formal vote.)
       Jones and DeLeo ultimately agreed to a revision this week 
     that allows some Republicans, including Jones, more chances 
     to speak during legislative debates under the new rules, 
     which could remain in effect until as late as January.
       Such back-and-forth was largely absent from Wednesday's 
     otherwise smooth session, though it included some awkward but 
     harmless hiccups as lawmakers adjusted to their new remote 
       Shortly before DeLeo opened the session, a voice fluttered 
     through on the livestream.
       ``Hello?'' a lawmaker asked.
       Another voice quickly cut in, informing him he had 
     accidentally called a number connected to a microphone within 
     the chamber. ``You're actually dialed into the rostrum 
     line,'' he was told.
       Later, when Representative Denise Garlick called in to 
     speak on the borrowing bill, a delayed feedback from the 
     session was audible over the livestream--trailing the chamber 
     by several moments and causing Garlick to pause for several 
     moments after DeLeo recognized her.
       When she wrapped her testimony, a long pause again settled 
     over the line, and the phrase ``[Audio difficulties]'' popped 
     up on the livestream feed.
       ``Is the representative finished with her remarks?'' DeLeo 
     eventually asked.
       ``Yes,'' Garlick said.
       Representative Harold P. Naughton was the only lawmaker not 
     to cast a vote, but the Clinton Democrat had a good excuse: A 
     lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts Army National Guard, 
     he was activated roughly a month ago and is reporting to 
     Hanscom Air Force Base through May 31, he said Wednesday.
       ``I've been pushing back information that I feel my 
     colleagues need from the vantage point of the National 
     Guard,'' he said in a phone call, adding he did listen to the 
     session. ``It was pretty historic.''
       The Legislature owes its roots to Colonial times, when the 
     ``General Court'' gathered for the first time in 1629 in 
     London and later became the government of the Massachusetts 
     Bay Colony. Amid its various iterations, members have met in 
     person to cast votes, and House leaders initially questioned 
     whether the state's constitution even allowed it to conduct 
     remote voting.
       The House's emergency rules try to limit who could be in 
     the chamber to DeLeo and Jones; Aaron Michlewitz, DeLeo's 
     budget chairman; eight ``monitors'' who would tally votes 
     from members on conference call lines; and a few other 
     Republicans, Democrats, and staff.
       The bill the chamber passed Wednesday allows the state 
     treasurer to borrow any ``necessary'' amount this fiscal year 
     and pay it back by June 2021. Donning a gray mask, Michlewitz 
     said from the House floor that the amount could be ``in the 
     range of $3 billion,'' though it will depend on how the 
     state's finances weather the pandemic.
       The legislation was first filed by Governor Charlie Baker 
     amid fears the state could face a budget gap after pushing 
     its April 15 tax filing deadline into July, potentially 
     diverting huge chunks of money it would otherwise collect now 
     into next fiscal year.
       That appeared to already be happening. Massachusetts tax 
     revenues plummeted last month, dropping more than 50 percent 
     below what the state collected at this time a year ago. The 
     $1.98 billion in taxes the state collected in April--
     typically the biggest tax month--was more than $2 billion 
     below state projections.
       ``A staggering number to say the least,'' Michlewitz said.
       So, after Garlick and Representative Todd Smola, a Warren 
     Republican, spoke in support of the bill, DeLeo teed up a 
     roll call. Minutes later, he documented the 157-0 tally to 
     officially move the bill to the Senate, where leaders are 
     weighing their own rules to hold a remote session.
       ``Congratulations,'' DeLeo said to representatives watching 
     and listening in. And he rapped the gavel to close the 

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I insert in the Record an April 1 Courier 
Journal article entitled, ``Kentucky House Dramatically Limits In-
Person Voting on Bills Due to Coronavirus Concerns.''

          [From the Louisville Courier Journal, Apr. 1, 2020]

  Kentucky House Dramatically Limits In-Person Voting on Bills Due to 
                          Coronavirus Concerns

                             (By Joe Sonka)

       Frankfort, Ky.--For the first time in the history of the 
     Kentucky General Assembly, a large majority of House members 
     voted on bills remotely by texting photos of their paper 
     ballot via phone.
       The move is part of rule changes adopted Wednesday out of 
     concern about the coronavirus pandemic.
       The change was agreed on by leadership of the Republican 
     majority and Democratic minority of the House in order to 
     keep members from being in close proximity on the floor of 
     the chamber, as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 
     Kentucky continued to increase.
       On Monday, lawmakers learned that a legislative staffer had 
     tested positive for the coronavirus, though no legislators 
     had announced testing positive as of Wednesday.
       In a press release announcing the rules change shortly 
     before the House gaveled in on Wednesday, House Speaker David 
     Osborne, R-Prospect, said the pandemic is a historic 
     challenge to the state, and his chamber ``is willing to take 
     equally historic steps to meet our Constitutional obligations 
     to the people of Kentucky.''
       ``I appreciate the support of our Caucus members, House 
     Minority Leadership, and our staff in making it possible to 
     use every tool available to us in order to finish our work'' 
     Osborne stated.
       In order to adopt the rules change to allow remote voting, 
     House leadership allowed members to enter in groups of 25 to 
     cast their vote as present and in favor of amending the 
       Under the rules change, members could text a photo of their 
     paper ballot vote to designated members of their party who 
     remained on the House floor and cast their votes.
       Following the approval of the rules change, members voted 
     89-1 to adopt Senate Bill 249--freezing the pension 
     contribution rate of local government employers--in a nearly 
     empty chamber.
       The three Democratic leadership members remained on the 
     floor as vote designates, while three Republicans remained as 
     vote designates along with Osborne and two other GOP members 
     of leadership.

[[Page H2033]]

       Two Democratic House members--Reps. Terri Branham Clark and 
     Nima Kulkarni--were seen casting their votes on the bill from 
     their cars in the parking lot outside the Capitol Building.
       Part of the reason Democratic leadership agreed to the 
     change was a pledge they received from Republicans that the 
     House would take up only vital budget and revenue bills on 
     the floor Wednesday, and not unrelated bills.
       After the passage of SB 249, Rep. Chris Harris, D-
     Pikeville, entered the chamber and spoke in praise of 
     Osborne's move to change the voting rules--noting that two 
     weeks earlier he spoke on the floor denouncing House 
     Republicans' decision to remain in session and vote on bills 
     that were not related to a state budget or responding to the 
     coronavirus crisis.
       ``I thank you for taking these historic and unprecedented 
     measures to protect not only our members, but our families 
     and communities,'' Harris said. ``I was critical when I felt 
     you weren't getting it right, so I want to be just as vocal 
     in complimenting you today.''
       The House later used the same voting method to approve a 
     one-year state budget for the executive branch and other 
     appropriations and revenue bills that passed the Senate 
     earlier in the day.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from 
Wisconsin (Mr. Grothman), my very good friend.
  Mr. GROTHMAN. Mr. Speaker, I will bring up three things that are very 
wrong with proxy voting that I don't think have been brought up today.
  First of all, one of the problems we have in this building is, even 
though we all represent 700,000 people, there are some Congressmen who 
are a great deal more powerful than others, and this bill will greatly 
increase the power of leadership.
  Right now, people run into each other in the halls, talk to each 
other in the Cloakroom, question parts of the bill, and sometimes 
question leadership's narrative. This bill says everybody is going to 
be back at home, which greatly strengthens the power of leadership 
because people aren't around to question the bill.
  Secondly, it lessens bipartisanship. When we are gone, we do have 
conference calls with other Republicans, but I find I talk to Democrats 
much more when we are in this building; and by taking people out of 
this building, you will decrease bipartisanship as you make proxy 
voting the norm.
  Finally, you are penalizing the press. We should all be available to 
the press after these votes so they get a variety of perspectives. We 
are going to work our way down to the point where it is the Speaker and 
a few other Democrats around, and the press are not going to be able to 
talk to us all. It is an insult to the press.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I insert in the Record an April 22 Washington Post article entitled, 
``U.K.'s Zoom Parliament Launches With a Few Glitches But Shows Virtual 
Democracy May Work for a While.''

               [From the Washington Post, Apr. 22, 2020]

 U.K.'s Zoom Parliament Launches With a Few Glitches But Shows Virtual 
                     Democracy May Work for a While

                           (By William Booth)

       London.--Britain's extraordinary first ``Parliament via 
     Zoom'' proceeded Wednesday in rather ordinary fashion, with 
     the usual barbed questions and artful evasion by politicians, 
     plus the addition of awkward views of oversize chins and 
     bookshelves staged as backdrops.
       Everything was the same, and everything was a little odd.
       Breaking 700 years of tradition, the British Parliament has 
     agreed to serve as a cradle of virtual democracy--to allow 
     members to continue to debate, vote and legislate, but via 
     video conferencing app, from the safety of their own homes, 
     for the duration of Britain's coronavirus lockdown.
       On Wednesday, there were a few minor technical hiccups. 
     Some lawmakers' heads were cropped at the eyebrows by the bad 
     framing. Their mics were sometimes too close or too far away, 
     or the Internet connection bad, and so voices sounded tinny 
     or muffled or like Darth Vader.
       But all in all, for no rehearsals? Not a bad opening 
       For centuries, it has been essential for members of 
     Parliament to be present in the Houses of Commons or Lords to 
     vote. That's why special ``division bells'' ring out in 
     Westminster's offices and committee rooms--and many bars--
     alerting lawmakers they have eight minutes to enter their 
     lobbies, before doors are bolted shut.
       Now, instead, they will get a ping on their mobile phones.
       Britain is trying out ``hybrid proceedings,'' where up to 
     50 lawmakers can be in the House of Commons--spaced six feet 
     apart on the green leather benches--while another 150 of the 
     650 members can join by Zoom.
       Wednesday's premiere featured the weekly thrust-and-parry 
     session known as ``Prime Minister's Questions,'' or PMQs.
       Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab stood at the despatch box in 
     place of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is recovering from 
     the bout of covid-19 that put him in the hospital for a week.
       In the sparsely populated House of Commons, Raab was 
     quizzed by the new leader of the opposition Labour Party, 
     Keir Starmer, who was prosecutorial in his questioning, 
     insisting the government was slow to order a lockdown, slow 
     to do widespread testing for the virus and slow to get vital 
     protective gowns, masks and visors into the hands of front-
     line medical workers.
       Speaker Lindsay Hoyle called on lawmakers by swiveling his 
     head toward what appeared to be a TV monitor and shouting a 
     version of: ``We are now going over to Stephen Kinnock. 
       Shouting at a television being a time-honored tradition 
       And then Kinnock, a Labour lawmaker from Wales, popped on 
     the screen for those watching on Parliament TV--including 
     Washington Post reporters--from their homes.
       At one point, Hoyle shouted for David Mundell, a Scottish 
     Conservative, who didn't answer.
       ``Unable to connect,'' the speaker said, perhaps creating a 
     new meme, like the famous ``orrrrrder, orrrrder!'' from past 
     days. So they moved on.
       In another exchange, Peter Bone, a Conservative from 
     Wellingborough, was complaining about his constituents having 
     to live off their overdraft accounts. ``What on earth is 
     going on?'' Bone demanded. ``When are the banks going to work 
     in the nation interest and . . .''
       Then his Zoom link went dead.
       Raab said, ``I got the gist,'' and answered anyway.
       Legislatures around the world are sorting out how to 
     proceed during the pandemic. Some--such as the German 
     Bundestag and Irish Dail--are continuing to meet in person 
     but with social distancing measures. Canada's Parliament is 
     trying a mix of in-person and virtual, while the U.S. House 
     of Representatives is fighting over a proxy voting proposal.
       The Brits showed that it was possible to carry on.
       The Guardian newspaper's Andrew Sparrow observed: ``PMQs 
     without 400-odd MPs in the chamber makes everything quieter, 
     calmer, more intelligible and more grown-up. . . . Without 
     the jeering and the aggro, it lacked gladiatorial edge, and 
     frankly it was probably a bit more boring than the old PMQs. 
     But boring is a much underrated virtue in governance.''
       Raab was questioned pointedly about the government's 
     performance during the outbreak.
       Labour lawmaker Barry Gardiner stated that the government's 
     scientific advisory group on emergencies recommended a 
     lockdown at the end of February. ``The government claims it 
     has followed scientific advice,'' he said. ``But it hasn't, 
     has it?''
       Starmer asked Raab how it will be possible to go from the 
     current 18,000 coronavirus tests a day to the 100,000 
     promised by the government by the end of the month.
       Raab sought to correct Starmer, pointing out that the 
     ``capacity'' stands at 40,000.
       Starmer wasn't having it. ``I didn't need correcting 
     because I gave the figure for actual tests being carried out, 
     which is 18,000,'' he said.
       At the end of the session, Raab was asked by a Labour 
     lawmaker if Britain would be ``drawn into the U.S. 
     president's disgraceful vendetta against the World Health 
       President Trump has cut off funding to the WHO because he 
     says the international body sides too closely with China, 
     where the virus first exploded onto the scene.
       Raab said Britain supported international efforts and was a 
     ``leading player, whether it's on vaccines or supporting 
     vulnerable countries, in helping to get through what is a 
     global crisis.''
       He said the WHO has ``has a role to play. It's not perfect, 
     no international institution is--we do need to work to reform 
     it. But we made clear we consider it an important part of the 
     international response.''
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, breaking 700 years of tradition, I also 
insert in the Record a March 26 Politico article entitled, ``Corona-era 
European Parliament: Empty Chamber and E-Voting.''

                   [From the Politico, Mar. 27, 2020]

       Corona-era European Parliament: Empty Chamber and e-Voting

                         (By Maia De La Baume)

       The chamber was almost empty, even for a presidential 
     address. One lawmaker wore a face mask. And deputies voted 
     remotely for the first time in the assembly's 62-year 
       Welcome to the European Parliament in the age of social 
       The Parliament's special one-day plenary session on 
     Thursday, held to pass a series of corona virus emergency 
     measures, was a mixture of the strange, the surreal and the 
       Only a handful of the Parliament's 705 members sat in the 
     hemicycle chamber in Brussels. The rest were scattered across 

[[Page H2034]]

     Continent, following via video-link and voting by email from 
     their home countries.
       When European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen 
     delivered a speech chastising EU member countries for 
     thinking only of themselves at the start of the crisis, she 
     stood meters apart from any aides and MEPs.
       Parliament President David Sassoli, back in the building 
     following a fortnight working from home after a visit to his 
     home country of Italy, called the session ``special and 
       ``It is the first time that a democratic parliament uses 
     remote participation, this has never happened before,'' 
     Sassoli told MEPs after a first round of emailed votes. ``The 
     European Parliament is called on to experiment with things in 
     this way at a moment for great danger for our citizens.''
       As experiments go, this one was quite radical.
       The Parliament's regular plenary venue of Strasbourg has 
     been abandoned for the next few months, at least. As much as 
     the Parliament has a physical home at all right now, it's 
       Plenary sessions are normally four days long. But on 
     Thursday everything was crammed into a one-day marathon to 
     push through three coronavirus-related measures, including 
     freeing up 37 billion in EU funding for member governments 
     and temporarily allowing airlines not to use their slots at 
       Some of the Parliament's usual quirks were suspended--such 
     as the ``catch the eye'' procedure whereby MEPs signal to the 
     president that they wish to speak, and the blue cards raised 
     to indicate a wish to question a fellow member.
       Fewer ushers than usual roamed the chamber and they kept 
     their distance from one another. Interpreters sat alone in 
     their booths, rather than being crammed in with colleagues. 
     Journalists were advised to stay away and watched via video 
       Among the few MEPs who attended in person, Fulvio 
     Martusciello of Italy wore a large white face mask. A Spanish 
     MEP sported a new beard, perhaps a result of personal 
       In the Parliament, MEPs usually vote by raising their hands 
     or by pushing a button on their desks to give their verdict 
     on dozens or more amendments before adopting a final 
     legislative proposal.
       But on Thursday they considered only a few amendments as 
     legislation was rushed through under an emergency procedure. 
     And they voted from all across Europe by printing out a form, 
     then signing, scanning and emailing it to the Parliament.
       For some, such technological advances were long overdue.
       The chamber was almost empty, even for a presidential 
     address. One lawmaker wore a face mask. And deputies voted 
     remotely for the first time in the assembly's 62-year 
       Welcome to the European Parliament in the age of social 
       The Parliament's special one-day plenary session on 
     Thursday, held to pass a series of coronavirus emergency 
     measures, was a mixture of the strange, the surreal and the 
       Only a handful of the Parliament's 705 members sat in the 
     hemicycle chamber in Brussels. The rest were scattered across 
     the Continent, following via video-link and voting by email 
     from their home countries.
       When European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen 
     delivered a speech chastising EU member countries for 
     thinking only of themselves at the start of the crisis, she 
     stood meters apart from any aides and MEPs.
       Parliament President David Sassoli, back in the building 
     following a fortnight working from home after a visit to his 
     home country of Italy, called the session ``special and 
     atypical.''``It is the first time that a democratic 
     parliament uses remote participation, this has never happened 
     before,'' Sassoli told MEPs after a first round of emailed 
     votes. ``The European Parliament is called on to experiment 
     with things in this way at a moment for great danger for our 
       As experiments go, this one was quite radical.
       The Parliament's regular plenary venue of Strasbourg has 
     been abandoned for the next few months, at least. As much as 
     the Parliament has a physical home at all right now, it's 
       Plenary sessions are normally four days long. But on 
     Thursday everything was crammed into a one-day marathon to 
     push through three coronavirus-related measures, including 
     freeing up 37 billion in EU funding for member governments 
     and temporarily allowing airlines not to use their slots at 
       Some of the Parliament's usual quirks were suspended--such 
     as the ``catch the eye'' procedure whereby MEPs signal to the 
     president that they wish to speak, and the blue cards raised 
     to indicate a wish to question a fellow member.
       Fewer ushers than usual roamed the chamber and they kept 
     their distance from one another. Interpreters sat alone in 
     their booths, rather than being crammed in with colleagues. 
     Journalists were advised to stay away and watched via video 
       Among the few MEPs who attended in person, Fulvio 
     Martusciello of Italy wore a large white face mask. A Spanish 
     MEP sported a new beard, perhaps a result of personal 
       In the Parliament, MEPs usually vote by raising their hands 
     or by pushing a button on their desks to give their verdict 
     on dozens or more amendments before adopting a final 
     legislative proposal.
       But on Thursday they considered only a few amendments as 
     legislation was rushed through under an emergency procedure. 
     And they voted from all across Europe by printing out a form, 
     then signing, scanning and emailing it to the Parliament.
       For some, such technological advances were long overdue.
       ``Corona drags the European Parliament into the 21st 
     century,'' tweeted Dutch center-left MEP Lara Wolters, above 
     a picture of her smiling as she signed a ballot paper.
       Bulgarian center-right MEP Eva Maydell also endorsed the 
     innovation. But, she added, ``this way of voting is only 
     feasible for single votes. We need another solution for 
     longer votes.''
       Some MEPs apparently doubted their colleagues were up to 
     the challenge of the new system. German Green MEP Rasmus 
     Andresen asked his fellow lawmakers on Twitter not to ``send 
     your votes to all colleagues (dont push the ``reply all'' 
     Button). It's good to be transparent, but i dont want to 
     receive about 2000 emails with your votes in my inbox 
     today.'' (No older MEPs shot back by criticizing his lack of 
     apostrophes or use of upper and lower case letters.)
       Other MEPs complained about formatting issues with the 
     first ballots that were sent to them, including trouble 
     converting the documents into a PDF if they were using Apple 
       Dita Charanzova from the centrist Renew Europe group told 
     POLITICO the Parliament should have gone entirely digital and 
     regretted that staff such as ushers had to attend, given that 
     people are meant to be staying at home for health reasons.
       ``We are now a digital Parliament, no one should have to 
     take a risk just for a few members in an empty room,'' 
     Charanzova said. ``It's ridiculous to see the Commission 
     there, and some MEPs. We should have gone completely digital 
     for this plenary and for all future plenaries until the 
     crisis is over.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Oregon 
(Mr. Walden), my good friend and the distinguished ranking member and 
former chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
  Mr. WALDEN. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Oklahoma, the current 
Republican leader of the Rules Committee, for yielding.
  We are in unprecedented times, and unprecedented times do call for 
unprecedented actions. But using these times to smash a wrecking ball 
into the foundation of democratic lawmaking by making government more 
remote, more isolated from the people by dramatically centralizing even 
more power with those few at the top in the majority while giving the 
range of the House to fewer than 25 Members who show up with votes, 
with proxies, seems like a return to boss politics.
  This is not to say there is never room for improvement in the way the 
House conducts its business.
  Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago, I led the transition effort for House 
Republicans, and we looked at ways that we could modernize Congress and 
improve its operations.
  But I knew these were matters not to be taken lightly and we needed 
an inclusive, bipartisan approach, and I took great care to solicit 
input from Democrats and Republicans alike. We even put up a suggestion 
  What we did was good work. The changes were relatively small, but the 
process was robust. Unfortunately, the reverse is true of this 
  ``Regular order,'' ``accountability,'' ``transparency''--for the most 
part--``bipartisanship,'' these are words that govern the Energy and 
Commerce Committee, the Republicans and Democrats. As the Republican 
leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I am concerned what this 
proposal means for the committees.
  How do we preserve the rights of all Members on both sides of the 
dais from top to bottom as we Zoom through hearings and markups?
  How do we preserve the integrity of the proceedings?
  What if there is a technology failure?
  What if somebody makes a mistake using the technology, like 
accidentally muting another Member or themselves? Haven't we all, by 
now, experienced the inadequacies of video conferencing?
  No serious legislator can believe that remote hearings, remote 
meetings, and remote markups are improved by these changes.
  Moreover, this rules change further dehumanizes our processes. We all 
know social media has become a cancer on civility. Further distancing 
Members will not improve our relationships.

[[Page H2035]]

Think of what gets worked out between Members here on the floor or in 
the committees.
  We need more bipartisan dialogue in this country, not less, so I urge 
my Democratic colleagues to withdraw this proposal and work with us to 
preserve the great democratic traditions of the U.S. House that will 
work in this challenging time.

                              {time}  1345

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I have been inserting various articles into the Record 
showing other States and other parliaments and congresses across the 
world operating remotely to prove a point that it can be done.
  I don't know whether my Republican friends are just intimidated by 
technology. I mean, listening to some of them, I think they think 
bifocals are a radical idea. But the bottom line is: We can do this.
  The United States Senate had a remote hearing, and it worked out just 
  The bottom line is that we are in the middle of a health crisis, a 
pandemic, and we need to make sure that we can continue to do our work 
in a safe and orderly way.
  I mean, if I were cynical, I would think the reason my Republican 
friends are against this is to make sure we don't do anything. And I 
get it. They may not like the fact that we are trying to address the 
needs and the concerns of the American people, but we are going to do 
this, and I hope we get a bipartisan vote on this.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. 
Hoyer), our distinguished majority leader.
  Mr. HOYER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I want to remind us today of President Lincoln's words 
to Congress. He said this: ``The dogmas of the quiet past are 
inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with 
difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so 
we must think anew and act anew.''
  So said President Abraham Lincoln. So it is today.
  This occasion is piled high with difficulty, but we must rise to the 
occasion. Our challenges are piled high, and this House must rise to 
meet them.
  We find ourselves in new and unprecedented circumstances, so, Mr. 
Speaker, we must think anew and act anew.
  The House has a duty to the American people to do its job, even in a 
crisis like this one that nobody on this floor has ever experienced. 
The House has a duty to the American people to do its job, especially 
in a crisis like this.
  Let me say at the outset, Mr. Speaker--I want my colleagues to hear 
me on this--that there is no substitute for personal interaction of 
Members in a committee room or on the House floor. I share that view, 
Mr. McCarthy shares that view, Ms. Pelosi shares that view, Mr. 
McConnell shares that view.
  But when that is not possible because it poses a mortal danger--
86,000 plus of our fellow citizens have died because they contracted 
COVID-19. It poses a mortal danger to the health of Members, staff, 
press, and the public, and therefore, we must provide an alternative 
way to do the people's business.
  Now, let me say that we had a bipartisan task force. At the first 
task force meeting, Rodney Davis, Republican from Illinois, said, ``We 
want the Congress to be able to work.''
  My colleague said that, cynically, we could observe that perhaps for 
those who may not be able to garner a majority for what we pass, 
perhaps they don't want us to work.
  I hope that is not the case.
  I know the administration does not want us to do oversight, but that 
is our responsibility.
  This resolution will enable the House to conduct its work in full 
without risking the health and safety of Americans and communities 
across the country from which Members come and to which they will 
  It allows committees to use remote technology to conduct hearings and 
mark up legislation, technology already in use safely and effectively 
by millions of Americans, including the Supreme Court, nine people who 
have decided they ought to be separated and are therefore doing what 
has never been done in history. It is not a revolution. They are using 
technology to do the same thing they could do in the hearing chamber of 
the United States Supreme Court, period.
  The United States Senate, as so many of my colleagues have observed, 
held a virtual hearing. The chairman was not there. He was quarantined. 
The witnesses were not there. They were quarantined.
  Now, there were, as Mr. McCarthy has suggested, Members in the 
hearing room. So it is what Mr. McCarthy refers to as a hybrid hearing. 
This rule provides for that.
  It will also permit the use of proxy voting on the House floor and 
takes steps toward adopting remote voting once a platform has been 
deemed secure.
  I had hoped that Democrats and Republicans could move forward with 
such changes on a bipartisan basis.
  I absolutely reject any theory that the character of the House is 
being changed by this rule, absolutely reject it. My friend is shaking 
his head, ``No, it is.''
  Nothing changes. The same people vote, the same issues will be 
considered, the same witnesses will be heard, the same committee rules 
will be followed. The only thing that changes is the technology that is 
available to us.
  By the way, when that board was lit up, there were some who people 
thought that was a radical change: ``I ought to be able to stand on the 
floor and say `aye' or `nay.' '' And when C-SPAN was introduced: Oh, 
my. How radically that would change the House.
  I reject, I say again, that this is any kind of radical change. What 
it is is the use of technology to accommodate the crisis we confront.
  We had many productive discussions through our bipartisan task force, 
and, Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Cole, I thank Mr. Davis, I thank Minority 
Leader McCarthy. I congratulate  Jim McGovern, the chairman of the 
Rules Committee, for his fairness and for his attentiveness to 
everybody's position.

  We didn't reach agreement. I am sorry that we didn't reach agreement. 
But we took a lot of the ideas that our friends on the Republican side 
of the aisle suggested. They were good suggestions, and we incorporated 
them in what we are doing.
  We are including in this resolution the requirement that any software 
platforms are to be approved by the chief administrative officer, so 
some technology that is not accepted or proved to work would not be 
used, and allowing committees to hold hybrid hearings, which I just 
referred to, with both remote and in-person participation 
  However, Mr. Speaker, we were unable to reach a consensus on adopting 
21st century tools that would allow the House to meet its 
constitutional responsibilities during this emergency, which is why 
Democrats are bringing this resolution to the floor today.
  I hope, however, with this resolution now on the floor, that 
Republicans will join us in voting for it, and I urge them to do so.
  If, in fact, you want the Congress to be able to act and exercise our 
responsibilities, you will vote for this rule, because it simply 
enables us to do what we have historically done: held hearings, voted 
on bills, brought them to the floor, had amendments, and passed them, 
the only difference being that there will be some people, maybe many 
people, who will be doing so, as technology enables us to do, 
  We know that remote technologies work, because the committees have 
already been using them to hold meetings, host forums, and engage in 
discussions about legislation.
  Many State legislatures, Mr. Speaker, and foreign parliaments have 
already adopted these technologies successfully. By the way, one of 
them is Kentucky, for what it is worth.
  The Washington metro area is still experiencing a high rate of 
infections, which has not yet peaked.
  So our doctor, on whom we have relied for some of our health needs, 
says the best practice would be not to come together in one room, 
whether it be a committee room or the floor of the House, but would be 
to have people have the opportunity to vote remotely.
  That is why the Capitol physician has cautioned us against bringing 
Members to Washington.
  At the same time, more than half of those employed here as staff or 

[[Page H2036]]

workers commute to the Capitol complex on public transit, and they are 
concerned. We have an obligation to protect them and their families as 
  This change is not permanent. This is to meet a temporary catastrophe 
that confronts our country which we have not seen the likes of for over 
a century.
  It will not advantage or disadvantage either party. There is no 
partisan advantage in this rule; none, zero, zip.
  It does not fundamentally alter the nature of the House or how it 
operates. Let me repeat that. It does not fundamentally alter the 
nature of the House or how it operates.
  There is no dangerous precedent here, only a commonsense solution to 
an unprecedented crisis that demands our ingenuity and adaptability as 
an institution.
  Now, I said it hasn't happened for more than a century. 1918, during 
the Spanish flu, they passed many, many pieces of legislation with two 
or three people on this floor.
  Perhaps my colleagues on the other side of the aisle think that is 
better than the 432 others by technology saying, ``I vote aye,'' ``I 
vote nay,'' whether it is in committee or, frankly, on this floor.
  Indeed, to paraphrase Lincoln: This is how to think anew and act 
anew. That is all we are doing.
  We need to have a system in place not only to deal with the current 
crisis, but future emergencies, including the possibility that another 
surge of COVID-19 is going to happen this fall.
  If we fail to act now, as we failed to act after 9/11, we may be in a 
lot of trouble come September, without the capacity to join us all 
together in this Chamber, but still with the capacity to join us all 
together and participate pursuant to the rules of this House, even 
though we do so virtually.
  This resolution isn't just about adopting remote working tools for 
the House. It is about ensuring that the House of Representatives, the 
people's House, conducts its constitutional duties of policymaking and 
oversight effectively and safely.
  I am not sure the executive department is shedding any tears that we 
are not here.
  Hear me: It is about making sure that our system of checks and 
balances remains fully in place by keeping the House functioning to the 
full extent of its abilities even, as I said, it does so virtually.
  Frankly, when I say something to people on some of this technology, 
whether it is Zoom, FaceTime, Teams, WebEx, or any other technology of 
that type, very frankly, when I am looking at   Tom Cole on that, as we 
did a couple of times, I see him on the screen, I know it is   Tom 
Cole, and when   Tom Cole says something, I know that that is what   
Tom Cole is saying.
  There is no secrecy here. There are no smoke and mirrors. There is no 
advantage to either party by this. That is why I do not understand why 
this isn't a bipartisan piece of legislation enabling this body to work 
in an effective way, albeit virtually.

                              {time}  1400

  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chairwoman Lofgren from the House 
Administration Committee and Chairman McGovern from the Rules Committee 
for their tireless efforts on this resolution, and I want to thank all 
of the Members who have been patient while we negotiated with 
Republicans through the bipartisan task force, hoping to produce a 
resolution that was bipartisan in its authorship.
  Having said that, there is a very fundamental difference. I 
understand that.
  Mr. Cole, at the hearing, offered a scholar's opinion that it would 
be unconstitutional to do this. Mr. McGovern offered another scholar's 
opinion that it was fully constitutional to do this.
  If that is the fundamental difference, I understand. But it is not 
because it radically changes the way this House works or radically 
changes the votes of the majority or the minority, or radically in any 
other way changes this House of Representatives to a body that is not 
represented. This resolution remains bipartisan in its ideas, and I 
hope it will be bipartisan in its adoption.
  Once it has passed, I would ask my colleagues to familiarize 
themselves with its new proxy voting requirements and to adhere 
strictly to them. That will allow the Clerk's office to more 
effectively fulfill its role of recording and counting Members' votes 
with utmost accuracy.
  Again, Mr. Speaker, I urge all of my colleagues to join me and many 
others in supporting this resolution and permitting the House to do its 
work safely and in compliance with social and physical distancing 
practices urged by all of our medical personnel.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I have been extraordinarily restrained in this debate 
because I have a lot of speakers that need to have time on the floor to 
express their feelings. Sometimes when the other side repeatedly says 
things that are either out of context or deserve a rebuttal, you have 
got to respond. To my good friends on the other side who have cited the 
Senate committee, they know in negotiations we said we would be happy 
to do exactly that. We just want markups to be in person. So please 
don't use the Senate committee as if we somehow were opposed to that.
  Second, my friend said we are intimidated by technology. We are not 
intimidated by technology. Heavens.
  We respect tradition and we think there is a better way to do this. 
As my friends know, we moved toward them in the course of that 
  Finally, my very good friend, the chairman, said this was a plot 
maybe to do nothing. We have passed four bipartisan pieces of 
legislation working together. We have done a lot in the last few weeks, 
and to suggest that we would deliberately sabotage the operation of the 
House simply because we disagree with you is wrong.
  Quite frankly, doing nothing is bringing a bill to this floor--which 
you are getting ready to do in H.R. 6800--that you know the Senate 
won't pick up and you know the President won't sign. That is doing 
  We have proven that working together we can do a lot. All we ask is, 
let's return to that.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Alabama (Mr. 
Rogers), the distinguished ranking Republican Member on the Homeland 
Security Committee.
  Mr. ROGERS of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend from 
Oklahoma for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H. Res. 965. This 
blatant, partisan move to fundamentally alter the way the House and 
committees operate completely undermines the rights of the minority and 
over 200 years of precedent.
  As ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am 
particularly concerned how this resolution overrides the rules of our 
committee. At the beginning of the Congress our committee negotiated 
with the majority a set of rules that protected minority rights. Now 
those rules are being thrown out and replaced by regulations written by 
the chairman of the Rules Committee, regulations that the minority 
first saw only hours ago.
  I don't understand why Speaker Pelosi doesn't trust her chairmen and 
chairwomen to negotiate with their ranking members on ways to 
accommodate committee business during this pandemic. But, apparently, 
she just doesn't trust them.
  One of the things that concerns me most about this resolution is that 
nothing guarantees that Republican Members are going to properly be 
notified and able to fully participate in virtual committee hearings. 
That may sound petty to you, but, unfortunately, on my committee, it is 
already the reality. For the last 2 weeks, Homeland Security Democrats 
have been holding virtual hearings without notifying Republican 
Members. To make matters worse, they restricted participation to only a 
handful of their Members. I fear this resolution will only further 
empower the misconduct on my committee and cause it to spread to 
  Worst of all, this is being done for the short-term benefit of the 
majority, and not the American people.
  Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record a letter from all ranking 
members opposing this resolution.

                                               Washington, DC,

                                                     May 14, 2020.
     Hon. Steny H. Hoyer,
     Majority Leader of the House,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Majority Leader Hoyer: We write in regards to H. Res. 
     965, which proposes partisan changes that facilitate remote 
     and virtual committee operations while the House remains in 

[[Page H2037]]

       When the Majority first released proposed rule changes a 
     few weeks ago, we couldn't possibly imagine it could get any 
     worse for the House as an institution. Yet, somehow, the 
     Majority managed to write an even more egregious package of 
     rules changes and seems hellbent on pushing these changes 
     through without bipartisan consensus.
       Upending more than 200 years of precedent through partisan 
     fiat will jeopardize the deliberative process of the House of 
     Representatives and our ability to represent our 
     constituents. The House will be in session this week with 
     debate being held and votes being cast. If the whole House 
     can conduct business while adhering to health guidelines, 
     then so too can our Committees.
       The work of committees should be prioritized to ensure that 
     we are producing thoughtful legislation to support the 
     continuing response to COVID-19 and to foster a robust 
     economic recovery for the American people. Properly 
     prioritizing this work will ensure greater flexibility in 
     scheduling and increase our ability to follow all applicable 
     health guidelines.
       Congress has already demonstrated that we can come together 
     during this crisis to address the needs of the American 
     people. Unfortunately, many of the proposed changes in H. 
     Res. 965 are only necessary if you seek to move partisan 
     measures or legislation un-related to the COVID-19 response.
       The proposed resolution gives unilateral authority to 
     Chairman McGovern to determine how committees manage their 
     business. Currently, committees are required to vote to 
     ratify proposed committee rules, but this new superpower will 
     allow a single Member of the House to determine the rules of 
     the road for all without amendments and without a vote.
       The issuance of a subpoena and conducting a deposition are 
     serious matters. To allow remote depositions underscores how 
     unserious H. Res. 965 truly is. A deposition is an important 
     tool for committees to use and it should not be subject to 
     the uncontrolled environment of an untested virtual setting.
       The rights of the Minority in the House must be protected. 
     Without the ability to ensure the rights of our Members are 
     secured, we cannot support your efforts and will oppose any 
     attempt to alter the rules.
       As Ranking Members of all standing and select committees, 
     we oppose this partisan assault on the rights of the House 
     Minority and our ability to effectively represent the 
     American people.
         Michael Conaway, Ranking Member, House Committee on 
           Agriculture; Mac Thornberry, Ranking Member, House 
           Committee on Armed Services; Virginia Foxx, Ranking 
           Member, House Committee on Education and Labor; Kenny 
           Marchant, Ranking Member, House Committee on Ethics; 
           Michael McCaul, Ranking Member, House Committee on 
           Foreign Affairs; Rodney Davis, Ranking Member, 
           Committee on House Administration; Kay Granger, Ranking 
           Member, House Committee on Appropriations; Steve 
           Womack, Ranking Member, House Committee on the Budget; 
           Greg Walden, Ranking Member, House Committee on Energy 
           and Commerce; Patrick McHenry, Ranking Member, House 
           Committee on Financial Services; Mike Rogers, Ranking 
           Member, House Committee on Homeland Security.
         Jim Jordan, Ranking Member, House Committee on Judiciary, 
           House Committee on Oversight and Reform; Rob Bishop, 
           Ranking Member, House Committee on Natural Resources; 
           Frank Lucas, Ranking Member, House Committee on 
           Science, Space and Technology; Sam Graves, Ranking 
           Member, House Committee on Transportation and 
           Infrastructure; Kevin Brady, Republican Leader, 
           Committee on Ways & Means; Garret Graves, Ranking 
           Member, Select Committee on the Climate Crisis; Tom 
           Cole, Ranking Member, House Committee on Rules; Steve 
           Chabot, Ranking Member, House Committee on Small 
           Business; Phil Roe, Ranking Member, House Committee on 
           Veterans' Affairs; Devin Nunes, Ranking Member, 
           Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; Tom Graves, 
           Ranking Member, Select Committee on the Modernization 
           of Congress.

  Mr. ROGERS of Alabama. Mr. Speaker, many of my constituents are 
showing up to work every day; from grocery store clerks, to nurses, 
doctors, policemen, and first responders. If the House had the resolve 
and the courage to do the same, we wouldn't need this partisan 
resolution. This is disgraceful. I urge all Members to vote ``no.''
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record a May 13 letter from Norman 
Ornstein, a current resident scholar at the American Enterprise 
Institute in support of our plan here.
                                                     May 13, 2020.
       Dear Chairman McGovern: I want to commend you for the 
     careful and thoughtful report you have issued and on which 
     the House will soon act to provide the first important and 
     meaningful steps to allow the House to operate during a dire 
     emergency that may leave large numbers of members unable to 
     work and be present in the Capitol to meet, vote and do other 
     important business, including crafting and marking up 
     legislation and doing important oversight.
       As you know, I have been focused since 9/11 on making sure 
     we have a functioning Congress at times of emergency; 
     Congress is the first article in the Constitution, the first 
     branch, for a reason, and it is essential for our freedom and 
     our system of democracy that it be working and acting at all 
     times, but especially during crises. The alternative is 
     government by executive fiat, or no government at all. That 
     spurred the creation of the Continuity of Government 
     Commission, co-chaired by the late Lloyd Cutler and former 
     Senator Alan Simpson, and which I have served as senior 
       My first interests, of course, stemmed from the terrorist 
     attacks in 2001, but they were broadened by the anthrax scare 
     that followed shortly thereafter. If it had been more 
     directed and concerted, it could have resulted in widespread 
     deaths and incapacitations of lawmakers in the House and 
     Senate, meaning no quorum to meet the express Constitutional 
     requirement and therefore no Congress for months or longer. 
     That set of events also meant that in our Continuity of 
     Government Commission, we had to consider the possibility of 
     a crisis that could include a bio-attack, a pandemic, or a 
     natural disaster. One of the things we discussed and 
     considered, especially reflecting the interest of your 
     colleague Jim Langevin, was the need to have a capability for 
     Congress to debate and vote remotely if members were 
     scattered across the country and could not meet together face 
     to face in the Capitol or another designated forum.
       Unfortunately, Congress, in the nearly 20 years since 9/11, 
     took no significant steps to deal with these issues. Now they 
     are back in a very serious way. COVID-19 is deadly, 
     especially for older Americans and especially so when large 
     numbers of people congregate closely together physically, 
     which is a characteristic of Congress. As the congressional 
     physician noted, meeting together in the traditional way is 
     currently dangerous for lawmakers, their staffs, all those 
     working in the Capitol complex, and all those they come into 
     contact with. Travel on common carriers like airlines or 
     trains is also dangerous, and it is possible that airlines 
     will be shut down or curtailed enough that lawmakers back 
     home would not be able to get back to the Capitol if there 
     were an urgent need to meet to act for the benefit of the 
     American people.
       So the steps you have proposed, along with Majority Leader 
     Hoyer and House Administration Chair Lofgren are thoughtful, 
     balanced and sensitive to the need to create a plan to meet 
     and vote remotely, while also understanding that this is a 
     big step, given both the traditions of the House and the 
     imperatives built into the Constitution. You commendably 
     recognize that this first set of steps should be temporary, 
     triggered only when absolutely necessary, and can and should 
     be followed by additional action when we are confident that 
     there are secure and usable technologies to allow remote 
     voting, remote debate and deliberation, remote markups in 
     committees, and so on. And you have pledged that you will 
     write regulations that will balance the needs of majority and 
     minority, be transparent, and avoid the kinds of manipulation 
     that can occur with unlimited proxy voting.
       I hope the House, in a bipartisan fashion, will endorse 
     your plan and make sure we have a functioning House 
     throughout this terrible crisis, to do what the Framers 
     expected from the people's house, and to protect the 
     interests and liberties of all of us.

                                              Norman Ornstein,

                                                 Resident Scholar,
                                The American Enterprise Institute.

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, in response to the gentleman who just 
spoke, I don't know what he is talking about, but there is nothing in 
this package that we are presenting that would undermine minority 
rights. I am happy to urge him to have his staff contact ours, but what 
he is talking about has nothing to do with what we are discussing here 
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished 
gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Bost), my very good friend.
  Mr. BOST. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Oklahoma for yielding 
to me.
  Mr. Speaker, the American people are sacrificing on the front lines. 
It has already been discussed about the truck drivers, the nurses, and 
all of that.
  I was going to go on to that, but then when I sat on this floor and 
listened to things that were being said--remember, I come from the 
State of Illinois where over a long period of time, about 35 years, we 
have seen small moves that sounded so good at the time, giving all of 
their power to the Speaker--all of their power given away, which is not 
what our Founding Fathers said.
  Mr. Speaker, the sponsor of this bill has said on several occasions 
that he would like to insert this statement into the Record and this 
article into

[[Page H2038]]

the Record. Well, they do not change the facts of Article I, Section 5 
that are so clear, that this is unconstitutional.
  I hope for the sake of the people who I represent or the people who 
each one of us represent that the Members will stand against this 
proposed rule, a rule that gives more power to one person instead of 
the individuals that we have here the way it was originally set up.
  Mr. Speaker, as I direct my comments toward you and the Chair, I 
would like to say this: If you believe that I, as a Member, am going to 
give up by proxy the ability to represent my 720,000 people, it will 
not happen.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, the good news is that the gentleman 
doesn't have to give anything up.
  Mr. Speaker, how much time remains?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Massachusetts has 1\1/2\ 
minutes remaining. The gentleman from Oklahoma has 8\1/2\ minutes 
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished 
gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Latta), my very good friend.
  Mr. LATTA. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for yielding.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H. Res. 965, which is a flagrant 
disregard to the Constitution and House traditions.
  Proxy voting has previously been deliberated in this body. In 1970, 
an amendment was offered to ban all forms of proxy voting in 
committees. It argued committee members should be present in person to 
listen to debate, discuss, and vote. Proxy voting tends to add to the 
cloud of suspicion hanging over Congress.
  The use of proxy voting on important bills gives up a Member's voice 
and adds to the appearance of secrecy. In 1974, an amendment was 
offered to entirely ban proxy voting. It was adopted by this House but 
later overturned by the Democratic Caucus. A CRS report gave the 
opponents' views to proxy voting by stating that it contributes to the 
domination of committee chairs, contributes to absenteeism, and 
detracts from the care necessary to formulate sound legislation.
  A history maxim states that he who forgets the past is condemned to 
repeat it. Learn from our past and vote ``no.''
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished Member 
from California (Mr. LaMalfa), my good friend.
  Mr. LaMALFA. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Oklahoma for 
  Mr. Speaker, our Founders used to ride days on horseback, on wagons, 
and through unkind conditions to get to D.C. to do their jobs for all 
of us at the time. We only have to brave TSA lines and occasionally 
delayed flights.
  The Constitution here did not catch the virus. Why are we voting on a 
measure here to basically suspend it? These rules have been in place 
since basically 1789.
  Mr. Speaker, our constituents elected us to come to Congress and do 
our job and be their voice in Washington, D.C. This would only mute 
their voice.
  Just as ballot harvesting in my State has led to some shady and even 
fraudulent outcomes, Members of Congress should not have to be here to 
be possibly coerced by certain other Members to how their votes should 
be shaped. We need to be able to show up. It is not that hard, really, 
at the end of the day.
  We have a higher calling to come here and do our job and be present 
to have these interactions, to have these conversations, especially 
when we are talking about possibly $3 trillion of new spending that is 
going to be debt for the grandkids that we are still trying to be 
helpful to in our future generations.
  I urge a ``no'' vote on this and we need to stop and think of what we 
are doing here.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished 
gentleman from Arkansas (Mr. Westerman), my very good friend.
  Mr. WESTERMAN. Mr. Speaker, why is it not too big of a health concern 
to call us back from all across the country to vote on a useless 
messaging bill that will wither on the vine outside this Chamber, but 
it is too much to ask us to come back and hold committee hearings?
  Proxy voting shouldn't happen; not now, not ever. If Members of 
Congress are unwilling to do their job, they should step down and let 
someone else do it. If politicizing a process weren't enough, the 
Speaker is now weakening the core foundations of Congress.
  Already, House Democrats have demonstrated their expertise at 
crafting partisan bills behind closed doors. And on the Natural 
Resources Committee, they have been holding partisan virtual hearings 
disguised as roundtables with no Republican input.

  I will concede to my colleagues across the aisle that proxy voting 
will keep the process moving: the wrong process, the wrong direction, 
and for all the wrong reasons. I am not only concerned about how we 
will be voting; I am also concerned about what we will be voting on.
  Is the plan now for a handful of Members to come back to D.C. every 
other week to vote on yet another messaging bill from the Speaker? This 
is wrong and none of us should stand for it. Republicans are ready to 
get back to real work. I ask Speaker Pelosi to please quit playing 
games with the rules and let us do our jobs.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1\1/2\ minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from Alabama (Mr. Byrne).
  Mr. BYRNE. Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the majority leader talk 
about a statement that Abraham Lincoln made. He made it in his annual 
report to the Congress on December 1, 1862. In that message, he 
proposed one of the dumbest ideas that has ever been put forth in this 
Congress and that was: instead of freeing the enslaved people in this 
country, we would round them up and put them on boats and take them 
back to Africa. That is what was in his message.
  He talks about the tired dogmas of the past. The Constitution is not 
dogma. It is the fundamental law of this country.

                              {time}  1415

  Remember, on December 1, 1862, this Congress was in this room. Fifty 
miles away, 10 days later, a fierce and awful battle took place in 
Fredericksburg, with 18,000 casualties. If it hadn't been winter, the 
Confederate Army could have come here and taken this building. Yet, 
they continued to meet here, through pandemics of yellow fever and 
malaria. This was the hottest spot in the country for typhoid fever for 
over 15 years, and the Congress still met in this room.
  Millions of Americans go to work every day, doing their jobs, and 
they expect us to do the same. Instead of adopting this very ill-
considered rule, we should all get to Washington, do our jobs, and take 
care of the American people.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from the 
great State of Pennsylvania (Mr. Perry).
  Mr. PERRY. Mr. Speaker, this isn't about changing the rules to get 
things done. This is about changing the rules to hide what is done and 
who has done it.
  This rule would change what is going to happen shortly here, which is 
a bill that provides another $1 trillion to State and local governments 
in addition to the funds provided under the CARES Act. Now, much of the 
$1 trillion already sent to the States has yet to be spent.
  Take my home State of Pennsylvania, Mr. Speaker, where the Governor 
there has withheld CARES Act funding and extorted the counties to go 
along with his indefinite shutdown, the untimely deaths of hundreds and 
thousands in nursing homes, and the bankruptcy of many of our citizens.
  This unnecessary and unconstitutional mandate has resulted in 1.8 
million Pennsylvanians losing their jobs. We are fifth in population, 
number one in unemployment, and one or two in untimely deaths in 
nursing homes.
  Despite all the CARES Act funds that we have already given, 41 days 
is what it takes, on the average, for somebody to receive unemployment 
benefits run by the State.
  More money isn't going to help anything here, Mr. Speaker, not one 
more cent.

[[Page H2039]]


  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from the 
great State of Michigan (Mr. Walberg).
  Mr. WALBERG. Mr. Speaker, I had an experience just last week, in a 
virtual hearing, when it came my turn to push the ``mute off'' button 
on the microphone, it didn't work. I was passed over. Then, when I 
texted in to find out why, I was told, basically: That is too bad. We 
will catch you at the end.
  The only place for us to be in this Congress is where we are supposed 
to be, and that is here. We ought to be doing our work together.
  Let me read you a quote from General Omar Bradley, a famous general 
who understood the cost of leadership. He said, of the Athenians:

       In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted 
     security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it 
     all--security, comfort, and freedom. When the freedom they 
     wanted most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens 
     ceased to be free.

  Mr. Speaker, together, we work for the freedom of this country.
  Mr. Speaker, I would submit to you that if I am not willing to do 
what is necessary to be here, then it is time for me to consider 
turning over to somebody else. I would suggest that that ought to be 
for all of us who are privileged to represent people in this august 
body, which is not like any other parliamentary body in the world, not 
like a State legislature. This is the U.S. Congress. Let's act like it.

                         Parliamentary Inquiry

  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I have a parliamentary inquiry.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Massachusetts will state 
his parliamentary inquiry.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, the gentleman just said that we had an 
official virtual hearing in this House.
  I want to know whether or not, under the rules that currently exist, 
is it allowed for there to be official hearings virtually or remotely?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair doesn't advise on committee 
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I will take it as there was not a hearing.
  Mr. WALBERG. Mr. Speaker, may I respond. Education and Labor 
Committee last week.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Not a hearing.
  Mr. WALBERG. Witnesses.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot today that the Republican 
plan was simply to prioritize testing for Members of Congress. 
Actually, it is a great deal more than that, as my friends know. It is 
much more expansive and much more complete.
  Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record the Republican plan authored by 
the distinguished Republican leader, Mr. Davis of Illinois, and myself.

                     A Plan for the People's House

     Four Strategies to Reopen Congress and Restore America's Voice

                          (By Kevin McCarthy)

       Benjamin Franklin once said, ``If you fail to plan, you are 
     planning to fail.''
       Recently, we called on Speaker Pelosi to establish a clear, 
     safe, and effective plan for reopening the House of 
     Representatives. This follows the White House and America's 
     governors releasing their own detailed plans for a phased 
     reopening of society, and now, both the United States Senate 
     and Democratic Speaker of the California State Assembly 
     calling their members back into session.
       In the interim, a bipartisan taskforce has been convened--
     on which we are all serving--to further explore ways in which 
     Congress can operate during this challenging time. While 
     differences remain, it has become clear through our initial 
     meetings that all members of our taskforce share several 
     fundamental beliefs.
       First, the business of the People's House is ``essential 
     work'' that must not be sidelined or ground to a halt.
       Second, there is intrinsic value in a Congress--a physical 
     meeting of people and ideas--that should be dutifully 
       And third, any changes to centuries-old rules and 
     precedents of the House should be done in a deliberate and 
     bipartisan way.
       As we enter this indeterminate period between outright 
     mitigation and a return to normalcy, everyone recognizes that 
     our typical ways of doing business will need to adjust. 
     Simply put, Congress will look and feel different.
       However, we believe there is a pathway forward that enables 
     the House to fully perform its key functions without 
     compromising our shared values or sacrificing bedrock norms.
       To that end, we offer four strategies that should form the 
     basis of any plan to reopen Congress and restore America's 
     voice. These strategies are based on the advice of public 
     health professionals, as well as guidance from parliamentary 
     experts with decades of combined House experience.
       We believe embracing this approach would achieve the 
     necessary balance between health and institutional concerns--
     and hopefully build a more resilient and productive 
     legislative branch in the process.

          Strategy 1: Modify Existing Practices and Structures

       The Rules Committee majority staff report on voting options 
     during the pandemic states: ``By far the best option is to 
     use the existing House rules and current practices'' ( 
     emphasis original).
       Already, Congress has demonstrated its ability to adapt and 
     to do so responsibly.
       Earlier this month, the Rules Committee successfully 
     convened an in-person business meeting in accordance with 
     health guidelines developed by the Attending Physician and 
     Sergeant at Arms. Likewise, over 50 members participated in a 
     hearing on COVID-19 response efforts hosted by the Committee 
     on Small Business. And this week, the Labor-HHS 
     Appropriations Subcommittee will hold an in-person hearing on 
     the coronavirus pandemic.
       Beyond committee business, nearly 400 members came to the 
     House Floor on April 23 in an orderly and physically distant 
     fashion to record their votes on two consecutive measures, a 
     process that Speaker Pelosi characterized as having been 
     executed ``fabulously.''
       Moving forward, we should expand these protocols to reduce 
     density and congestion in every facet of our work.
       House office buildings and individual office floor plans 
     should be assessed to provide new provisional occupancy 
     levels--with an eye towards possible reconfigurations to 
     accommodate physical distance.
       Additionally, measures should be explored to engineer 
     temporary controls or barriers in locations where physical 
     distance is difficult to achieve, as is currently happening 
     in grocery stores and other places of public accommodation 
     across America. For example, plexiglass dividers could be 
     installed in high trafficked areas, like security 
     checkpoints, or possibly in committee hearing rooms along the 
     dais to provide further separation between members.

           Strategy 2: Employ a Phased Return with Committees

       Just as our states are employing a phased reopening 
     approach, Congress should do so as well--beginning with 
     committees and subcommittees as the engines of regular order.
       Currently, the average total membership of a standing House 
     Committee is approximately 40 members, with average 
     subcommittee membership in the teens.
       Each committee should present an outline to the Majority 
     Leader detailing their projected business meetings for the 
     month ahead, along with estimated attendance levels.
       Working backwards, this information could be used to 
     generate a staggered business calendar, with rotating use of 
     larger committee hearing rooms where necessary. Precedence 
     should be given to bipartisan COVID-19 response measures and 
     other high-priority legislative items, such as the National 
     Defense Authorization Act, Water Resources Development Act, 
     and FY21 appropriations measures.
       By directing committees to focus on legislation that has 
     bipartisan and bicameral appeal, we can make the most of each 
     member's time and effort, thereby making the House more 
       This system would also ensure greater transparency and 
     regular order for all members--as opposed to centralized 
     decision-making by a select group of leadership and staff 
     that reduces the role of representative to merely voting 
     ``yea'' or ``nay'' on pre-drafted proposals.
       At the start, we do not envision routine recorded votes 
     occurring in the House every day or perhaps even every 
     session week. Instead, our voting schedule should be 
     reimagined in the near-term, with postponement authority 
     providing a structure to queue up bills at the end of a week 
     or work period.
       Lastly, regular morning hour time should be restored so all 
     members have the opportunity give one- and five-minute 
     speeches from the House Floor, an essential forum that has 
     not been available now for over a month.

  Strategy 3: Deploy Technology in a ``Crawl, Walk, Run'' Progression

       The rules change proposal introduced by Chairman McGovern 
     would enable sweeping use of technology for every element of 
     committee business.
       This is concerning for a variety of reasons--many of which 
     are catalogued in the Rules Committee majority staff report--
     including untested assumptions that members have ``reliable, 
     connected technology, knowledge of how to use that 
     technology, access to round-the-clock technical support, . . 
     . [and] secure connectivity with the capacity to transmit 
     potentially large amounts of data,'' just to name a few.
       From a security standpoint, the House averages 1.6 billion 
     unauthorized scans, probes, and malicious attempted network 
     cyber-connections per month. Earlier this month, our 
     colleagues experienced this kind of incident firsthand with 
     hackers interrupting a House Oversight Committee video event 
     multiple times.

[[Page H2040]]

       In our view, technology should only be deployed in a 
     ``crawl, walk, run'' progression. Before we rush to discard 
     over 200 years of precedent, we should require that rigorous 
     testing standards be met, ample feedback be provided, and 
     bipartisan rules of the road be agreed upon and made public 
     to truly safeguard minority rights.
       We believe ``hybrid'' hearings--an idea initially proposed 
     by Democrats on the taskforce--could serve as a useful proof-
     of-concept to consider, similar to the model currently being 
     used in the United Kingdom to facilitate virtual question 
     time in the House of Commons.
       For the purposes of these hybrid hearings, in-person quorum 
     requirements should remain in place (most committee rules 
     require only two members be present to hear testimony), with 
     allowances for committee and non-partisan support staff to 
     guide the proceedings and troubleshoot any technical 
     problems. For the reasons outlined above, virtual 
     participation should not become the default--but should 
     instead be reserved for members in at-risk categories or who 
     are otherwise unable to travel to D.C.
       Under this proposal, committees that regularly handle 
     sensitive and classified materials, including Intelligence 
     and Ethics, would still be required to meet in-person.
       We cannot recommend using virtual platforms for committee 
     markups, given the mountain of unanswered questions regarding 
     how more complex and involved procedural maneuvers would work 
     in a remote setting.

        Strategy 4: Accelerate Active Risk Mitigation Practices

       Thanks to the efforts of the Attending Physician, in 
     coordination with the House Administration Committee, the 
     fourth strategy has already been set in motion.
       Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits--including gloves, 
     facemasks, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers--have been 
     provided to each member office and committee, with additional 
     supplies available on-demand.
       Hand sanitizing stations are now ubiquitous around the 
     Capitol campus--including on the House Floor--while enhanced 
     cleaning procedures have become the new standard, with areas 
     ripe for surface contamination having been limited or 
       Staffing has been kept to a minimum through continued use 
     of teleworking procedures, while the Capitol remains open to 
     only members, required staff, and credentialed press.
       Even so, these mitigation practices can be accelerated in 
     several key ways.
       Measured screening procedures should be considered, 
     consisting of either selfreported medical diagnostic 
     assessments, at-home temperature monitoring, touchless 
     thermal temperature checks at office entry points, or any 
     combination thereof.
       A uniform ``return-to-work'' policy--in accordance with 
     existing CDC guidelines--should be adopted for any staffer 
     experiencing signs of illness.
       Finally, our ongoing and iterative testing regime should be 
     scaled as test availability increases nationwide. This plan 
     should progress to incorporate asymptomatic randomized 
     testing, and eventually, FDA authorized rapid antigen tests.


       We fully appreciate the extraordinary nature of the 
     challenge before us. However, when it comes to fundamentally 
     altering how the House operates--in this case, potentially 
     abandoning the Capitol for the remainder of the 116th 
     Congress under the introduced Democratic proposal--every 
     avenue should first be explored that preserves enduring 
     institutional rules while prioritizing member health.
       As Chairman McGovern recently wrote, ``decisions we make 
     today will influence the choices made in this chamber 100 
     years from now.''
       We agree--and firmly believe it is our job as leaders of 
     our respective parties to ensure the most reasoned voices 
     prevail on this critical matter, not simply the loudest ones.
       This pandemic has claimed too many lives and livelihoods 
     already. We must not allow the institution we are tasked with 
     safeguarding to be the next.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished 
gentleman from California (Mr. McCarthy), who is the Republican leader 
of the House of Representatives.
  Mr. McCARTHY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I 
thank him for his work, and Rodney Davis' as well. Unfortunately, it 
did not come to the place where we could have a bipartisan agreement.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, today isn't just a day for debate. It is also a day 
for remembrance. It is Peace Officers Memorial Day and the second-to-
last day of Police Week. So, before I begin, I want to say thank you to 
everyone who serves as a police officer or is a family member of a 
police officer, including our wonderful Capitol Police and their 
families who do an incredible job protecting this campus, its 
employees, and its visitors. As the guardians of peace, they are on the 
front lines every day. Despite the danger, they are undeterred from 
performing their duty.
  As the son of a firefighter, I know that they do not do their job for 
recognition or praise, but they truly deserve our gratitude, especially 
now. So, I thank them for everything they do, from a very grateful 
  Now, Mr. Speaker, the work of our frontline heroes is the definition 
of ``essential.'' It cannot be done remotely or by proxy.
  Why should Congress be any different? We are supposed to represent 
the people. We should strive to show a level of determination in our 
important work that is worthy of the police officers we honor today. 
The American people expect us to do our part to defeat this virus just 
like they are doing on a daily basis.
  Mr. Speaker, Speaker Pelosi said in this exact Chamber just a few 
weeks ago: ``We are captains of the ship. We are the last to leave.''
  But proxy voting calls on Congress to abandon the ship and be the 
first to leave for months or possibly for the rest of the session. The 
Speaker is on the brink of launching the most significant power grab in 
the history of Congress. It runs counter to 230 years of House rules 
and even the Constitution.
  Mr. Speaker, our Founders would be ashamed that we aren't assembling. 
I want every American to understand what it means for their Member of 
Congress to whom they lend their voice in Washington. It means that you 
can stay home for the rest of the year but still get paid for the rest 
of the year. Many Americans will not be paid.
  It means that they can let someone else--Speaker Pelosi--consolidate 
power and do their job for them when they could do it for themselves. 
It means that they will participate only in legislative theater while 
shutting your voice out for the real lawmaking process.
  A virtual Congress would be a Congress that is connected to the 
internet but disconnected from the American people. That isn't fair to 
our constituents, our colleagues, or our country. It undermines the 
very purpose of representative democracy as our Founders designed it.
  Roger Sherman, the only Founder to sign all four great state 
documents, said, in 1789: ``When the people have chosen a 
representative, it is his duty to meet others from the different parts 
of the Union and consult and agree with them to such acts as are for 
the general benefit of the whole community.''
  Sherman was right. Especially in a pandemic, our presence here, our 
Congress together, matters. It matters to our constituents; it matters 
to our institution; and it matters to all those who will come after us.
  This pandemic has claimed too many lives and livelihoods already. We 
must not allow this great body that we are charged with safeguarding to 
be the next casualty if you pass this bill.
  In fact, aren't we proving today that we don't need a virtual 
  In the middle of this virus, the House is conducting its business 
while following the health guidelines. We can do that at a committee 
level, too.
  Our Republican colleagues, Mr. Cole and Mr. Davis, had submitted that 
``Plan for the People's House'' for the committees to work in a safe 
manner. It is the only side that has produced a plan, and it was a 
bipartisan plan to move forward. It is about more than reopening a 
campus. It is about restoring America's voice.
  We don't have to choose between the health of our Capitol community 
and the health of this institution. We can continue to work in a safe 
and effective manner without overturning 230 years of constitutional 
and legislative tradition. Remote voting should be the final and last 
option, not the first and only.
  Unfortunately, rather than allowing the most reasoned voices to 
prevail on this crucial matter, my friends across the aisle have 
surrendered to the loudest voice.
  Mr. Speaker, as I look at this reckless proposal, I am reminded of 
what the great American author James Fenimore Cooper said in 1838. He 
said that the most dangerous attacks on freedom are made by ``the 
largest trustees of authority, in their efforts to increase their 
  Mr. Speaker, I believe that is worth hearing again. It was said in 
1838 that the most dangerous attacks on freedom are made by ``the 
largest trustees of authority, in their efforts to increase their 
  Cooper was correct, and that should concern each and every one of us

[[Page H2041]]

today. By changing the rules to increase the power of a select few, 
Democrats will forever alter our institution for the worse.
  That will be the legacy that is left this Congress, a Congress that 
is a voice of people who have lent their voice throughout this Nation 
to 435 Members that will now shrink to 20. We were warned that the 
dangers of freedom will come from those who are the trustees of 
authority. We were warned so maybe today would never happen, but now we 
are witnesses of it. In a few minutes, we will be given the opportunity 
to make that choice.
  Mr. Speaker, will your legacy be what Cooper had warned the Nation 
about? I hope it will not.
  Mr. Speaker, if you are okay with overturning 230 years of tradition 
and allowing 20 Members to control Congress, then vote for this 

  Mr. Speaker, if you enjoy being cut out of the lawmaking process, 
then vote for this resolution.
  Mr. Speaker, if you ran to get a title but are willing to give your 
vote in return, then vote for this resolution. But if you think our 
Congress still matters, and if you think the people's voice still 
matters, then I urge all of my colleagues to vote ``no.''
  Mr. Speaker, I know each and every one of you will honor the police 
for doing their job. Each and every one of you will honor all those in 
the medical community for doing their job. I know Members will honor 
the delivery driver, will honor the cashier, and will honor those who 
are behind the check stands at Home Depot or in the grocery store 
because Members think what they are doing is essential.
  I hope that Members look deep in their hearts because when they asked 
their constituents to vote for them because they believed the job they 
were running for was essential for the Nation--because I think it is--I 
want them to look at their vote.
  Because, Mr. Speaker, if you believe 20 should have the power, if you 
believe you should have the title and not do the job, and if you 
believe you should be paid while you stay home, I think we have a 
difference of opinion.
  I believe our work is essential, and I believe we are proving we can 
do it. I believed the Speaker when she said just a few weeks ago that 
we are captains of the ship and that we will be the last to leave, not 
the first to abandon it like you will today.
  A vote for this resolution is a vote to abandon this House, to 
abandon the Constitution, to abandon 230 years of tradition. You will 
still have your title. You will have no power. And worst of all, your 
constituents will have no voice.

                              {time}  1430

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to address their 
remarks to the Chair.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  The distinguished minority leader asked the question: Why should we 
be treated differently from anyone else in this country? That is 
actually a very good question, and that is why we rejected his proposal 
and his idea that Members of Congress get preferential treatment, that 
we move to the front of the line with regard to tests at a time when 
our doctors and our nurses and our teachers and volunteers in homeless 
shelters and in food banks can't get a test, but somehow we are so 
special that we should move to the front of the line.
  We rejected that. And quite frankly, it is one of the reasons why 
people have a bad feeling sometimes about Congress because of when they 
hear those kinds of suggestions.
  Quite frankly, I am ashamed that even that idea was brought forward 
in a serious way. I know they do this at the White House, but the idea 
that we would step ahead of everybody else doesn't make any sense.
  Mr. Speaker, to hear some of my Republican friends, you would think 
this House conducts its business today, in 2020, just as it did in 
1798. But that is just not true. A lot has changed these last 230 
years, from the way we vote to the way we count a quorum. Americans are 
watching and they are listening to this debate live right now because 
of actions Congress took decades ago to adapt to new technology.
  The changes that we are talking about here aren't permanent ones like 
that. These are temporary, to be used only during this pandemic. Once 
it is over, we go back to working side by side and in person.
  State legislatures and governments around the world have already 
acted to make remote voting possible. I really don't know why some 
people here believe that this House is somehow different. We can't 
afford to let this pandemic stop our legislative work in its tracks.
  And I would say to the minority leader: We want to do our work, and 
we want to do the oversight to make sure that the administration 
appropriates the money that we fought to get to the American people the 
right way.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote for this bill, and I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  Ms. LOFGREN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H. Res. 965, a 
measure to ensure that the House can continue to govern during the 
coronavirus pandemic. The proposals before us offer new ways to conduct 
our legislative business. In some respects, they present new tools for 
governing--but they are within our authority to implement and they are 
not intended to replace our regular order. To the contrary, they 
present a fallback option to ensure that the House can continue to lead 
during this crisis, and as the resolution makes clear, they are 
intended to be used only during extraordinary circumstances.
  And there can be no doubt that these are extraordinary times. We know 
that to date, about 1.4 million Americans have already contracted this 
deadly virus. To put this in perspective, that's more than the entire 
population of my hometown, San Jose, California, which is the tenth 
largest city in the country.
  In just three months, more Americans have died from the coronavirus 
than were killed in all the wars we have fought in more than a half 
century combined--including in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
  According to one model, which the White House has relied on, by 
August of this year the toll could be as high as 147,000 deaths. That's 
nearly twice as many as the same model forecast only two weeks ago.
  At the same time, we face dire economic conditions. In the past eight 
weeks, more than 36.5 million unemployment claims have been filed, and 
the unemployment rate has quadrupled, soaring to 14.7 percent. It has 
previously been estimated that the nation's highest ever unemployment 
rate was 24.9 percent, during the Great Depression in 1933. Yesterday, 
California's Employment Development Department released new data which 
show that the unemployment rate in my state may already be 24.4 
  The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our 
daily lives, upending businesses and grinding our economy to a halt. 
This crisis demands legislative action and oversight.
  However, the health guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease 
Control and Prevention and the advice of the Attending Physician show 
that there are significant challenges to the House operating as if 
nothing has changed, including the need for social distancing, use of 
masks or facial coverings, cancelling any gatherings of more than 250 
individuals or more than 10 individuals in a high-risk category, and 
  Moreover, we are still learning about how this highly contagious 
deadly virus is spread and what steps can be taken to mitigate its 
further spread. I represent Santa Clara County, which experts now 
believe suffered the first death from the coronavirus in the United 
States. But experts did not know until mid-April that a death which 
occurred on February 6 was actually a result of the coronavirus.
  I am mindful that many people are putting themselves at risk by 
working on the frontlines every day: from doctors and nurses, to police 
officers, firefighters, and paramedics, to transit workers and truck 
drivers, among others. As the daughter of a truck driver and a 
cafeteria cook, I deeply appreciate everything all of these people are 
doing to support their communities and the country, even at risk to 
their own health.
  However, we in Congress have an option that most of these vital 
frontline workers do not: we can do our work remotely in a safe, 
secure, online format. It is clear that we need rules that allow the 
House to conduct oversight of the coronavirus response, mark up 
legislation, and take votes on the House Floor without needlessly 
putting Members, Capitol Police, staff, press, and non-partisan 
institutional staff at risk.
  The resolution before us would provide mechanisms to do just that, 
both at the committee level and on the House floor.
  A series of events this week prove that the highest levels of our 
government recognize the need to adapt our work to the 21st century--
and that we can do so in a safe, secure, and transparent way.

[[Page H2042]]

  The Supreme Court--which has long resisted modest attempts to 
increase transparency and public access to its proceedings--heard oral 
arguments by conference call, as it has done during the pandemic. Those 
important cases involve critical congressional oversight prerogatives.
  The Senate held a hearing that included remote participation, as it 
has done during the pandemic. This time, it included an entire panel of 
witnesses testifying remotely, as well as a Chairman and Ranking Member 
who led the hearing remotely, in addition to other Senators.
  For its part, the executive branch recognized the legitimacy and need 
for these virtual proceedings by participating in the proceedings of 
both the legislative and judicial branches--including by having high 
ranking members of the White House Task Force testify remotely in a 
Senate hearing about the Administration's response.
  Expanding congressional activity online ensures that we can continue 
to act, while reserving precious testing equipment and supplies for 
frontline workers who don't have jobs that can be performed remotely.
  The House has not always been quick to adopt technology to its 
legislative procedures. It is not unusual for any institution steeped 
in history and precedent to resist technological change. That was the 
case for the House when it came to advances like electronic voting and 
televising our proceedings--both of which we take for granted today. 
The first bill to permit a form of electrical and mechanical voting was 
introduced in 1886, but the House did not take its first electronic 
vote until 1973, nearly 90 years later. Similarly, it took more than 40 
years from the time Members of the House first appeared on live 
television to the time that cameras were allowed to broadcast live 
proceedings on the House floor.
  Resistance to technological change for governing has not been unique 
to the House. The Senate took another seven years after the House to 
permit television coverage of its proceedings, and it still does not 
permit electronic voting. Even today, the Supreme Court does not 
televise its proceedings.
  Yet, as we have seen this week, both of those institutions have 
recognized that we are living in extraordinary times, and that it is 
essential to change the way they operate.
  We can--and we must--act swiftly to ensure that Congress can continue 
its legislative and oversight work online during these unique and 
extraordinary times. Working with Leader Hoyer, Chairman McGovern, and 
the staffs of the Rules and House Administration committees, together 
we have prepared a proposal that encompasses two distinct components: 
remote, directed voting on the House floor, and remote committee 
hearings and markups to ensure that we can continue to develop 
additional legislative solutions and carry out oversight of the 
Administration's response.
  For committee operations, the resolution provides for the use of 
suitable, secure online platforms for committee proceedings. The intent 
of the resolution is not to provide an advantage to either the majority 
or the minority, but to permit committees' proceedings to have the same 
status and significance as if they were held entirely in-person.
  For voting on the floor, we will rely on a secure email system, 
coupled with Member-driven, remotely-directed authorizations. This 
system would use secure email for proxy votes: a solid, well known, 
resilient technology with very low bandwidth requirements that we 
understand very well from a cybersecurity standpoint.
  These new provisions build on steps we have already taken to expand 
the use of technology during the pandemic to promote social distancing 
and other safeguards consistent with the advice of the Attending 
Physician and the CDC.
  For example, last month the Speaker directed the creation of an 
electronic hopper to permit the virtual submission of all Floor 
documents--including bills, resolutions, co-sponsors and extensions of 
remarks--via a dedicated and secure email system. Since the policy took 
effect, 489 measures have been filed, and of those, 482 measures were 
filed electronically and just 7 were filed using the old process.
  And in my capacity as Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Printing, 
I directed the GPO to accept for publication in the Congressional 
Record extensions of remarks submitted with a Member's electronic 
signature. Under this new, more convenient system Members have filed 
356 extensions of remarks by email.
  I represent Silicon Valley, which has become synonymous around the 
world for technology and the spirit of innovation. We in Congress must 
adopt the entrepreneurial spirit and openness to new technology that 
made that community a global leader and apply it to the procedural and 
logistical challenges we face in our legislative operations--as well as 
to a strategy to respond to and overcome the coronavirus.
  Ms. ADAMS. Mr. Speaker, the American people, our constituents, are 
keeping this country afloat during this emergency.
  They are looking at the representatives to lead--not only through the 
legislation we debate and pass, but through the example we set.
  I support H. Res. 965 because it will allow the House to do the 
People's business in a thoughtful and safe way.
  We are in the midst of the unprecedented crisis--we cannot operate as 
if things are business as usual when all the science tells us that 
``business as usual'' could mean hundreds of Members, staff, and 
employees of the Capitol get sick.
  We need to change how the People's House operates until we ensure 
that America's frontline workers have access to adequate testing and 
PPE--and then can provide that same access to Members, staff, and 
Capitol employees.
  Because as we all know--that is the only way to dig our way out of 
this health crisis.
  H. Res. 965 would allow Members to designate a proxy to cast floor 
votes if it's considered too dangerous to travel to Washington and 
would allow for our Committees to continue their work in holding 
hearings and marking up legislation.
  Over the past two months, Congress has passed 4 bills to provide 
much-needed relief to the close to 40 million of newly unemployed 
Americans, and the 1.45 million Americans that have tested positive for 
  Despite what my friends on the other side of the aisle say, Congress 
is working and will continue to work to meet the health and economic 
challenge in front of us.
  H. Res. 965 gives us the ability to do that as we fervently do what 
is necessary to ensure this health emergency passes.
  Mr. PALMER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this usurpation of 
the rights and responsibilities of the members of Congress. And I 
emphasize the responsibilities of every member of Congress to do the 
job they were elected to do. I agree with my colleague from Arkansas 
Mr. Westerman. If you are not able to do the job you should consider 
stepping aside and letting someone else do the job. No one in this 
House is indispensable . . . no one.
  One of my Democrat colleagues referred to this resolution as our 
rule, there is not one Republican in support of this resolution . . . 
it is your rule, not our rule.
  I have heard multiple citations of history. Here is one I would like 
to cite. Caesar Rodney was one of the three delegates from Delaware to 
the Continental Congress. Despite suffering from facial cancer and 
asthma, Rodney rode 80 miles through a severe storm to cast his vote 
for Independence. He did not ask one of his Delaware colleagues to be 
his proxy. Despite his condition, he rode all night to cast his vote.
  I stand in the spirit of Rodney Caesar and all others before us who 
valued upholding their responsibilities above their own self-interest 
and well-being, to call on all members of good faith who value this 
institution to vote `No' on this resolution.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. All time for debate has expired.
  Pursuant to House Resolution 967, the previous question is ordered on 
the resolution.
  The question is on the adoption of the resolution.
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the ayes appeared to have it.
  Mr. COLE. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.