Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday threw her support behind a plan to allow House members to cast votes by proxy, conceding for the first time that the coronavirus pandemic that has forced Congress into an extended recess would require historic modifications to how the institution has operated for centuries.
The announcement was a stark shift for Ms. Pelosi, who as recently as last week dismissed the idea of remote voting, which would require a change to House rules. Speaking to reporters shortly after noon by teleconference, she said the issue was not yet settled — “It’s not as easy as you might think” — but made clear that she believed change was coming.
“Everybody’s working so hard on all of these initiatives, including on how we can come together, whether it’s by proxy voting or remote voting or whatever it is,” Ms. Pelosi said then. “When we are ready, we will do it.”
A few hours after Ms. Pelosi spoke, Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, the Rules Committee chairman who has been studying the issue at the speaker’s request, briefed his fellow Democrats on a private conference call on his recommendation that House rules be changed to allow remote voting by proxy during the pandemic.