The Ohio Republican said the temporary rules change for the pandemic 'ticks' him off.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) complained Thursday that a proposed temporary change to House rule to allow members to work from home during the pandemic was a "dangerous" move that violated the framer's intent for Congress.
"If you can mail in your vote, why would the Constitution say you have to be protected from being arrested coming to vote? You can just mail it in! That makes no sense," he argued at a House Rules Committee hearing on a proposed change to allow members to cast their votes by proxy and to hold hearings virtually.
"All these provisions envision members physically traveling and being present at the seat of federal government to do the business of the American people. But we're gonna change all that. ... The Constitution leaves no room for what we're trying to do here. It is so wrong," Jordan said.
The Constitution was ratified in 1788, long before both the internet and the virus that causes COVID-19 arrived.
But Jordan was upset that the Democratic majority was planning a Friday vote on the rule change, which will let members designate a colleague to vote on their behalf and allow remote committee meetings. The policy would be in place for the next 45 days.
The proposal came after the Congressional physician expressed concerns about the 435-member House meeting in person in Washington, D.C. — a hotspot for the coronavirus. At least six members of Congress have already tested positive.
Still, Jordan said he felt any use of the internet by Congress to conduct business during the pandemic is "wrong":
This is a dangerous place we're heading and everybody knows it, but the majority is gonna go ahead and do it. That is what ticks me off. Proxy voting, Zoom, Webex, Houseparty meetings and hearings, quasi-hearings, remote depositions. Remote depositions? The example this sends, the precedent this sets is wrong, and I think even the majority knows it.
Experts are continuing to advise people to stay at home, to prevent infection and further spread of the virus.
"From an epidemiological perspective, the solution to this problem is pretty clear — that we really need to have these very extreme interventions to do our best to slow the spread of disease," Dr. Kathleen Winter, an epidemiologist at the University of Kentucky, told Forbes last month.
But many GOP lawmakers, including Jordan, have pushed for a speedy reopening of the nation's economy and have argued that the Congress should be leading the way.
"Across our nation, Americans of all stripes are making sacrifices and doing their part to defeat this virus — and they expect Washington to do the same," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) wrote in a joint statement on Wednesday. "Unfortunately, far from being 'captains of this ship' as Speaker Pelosi recently proclaimed, the Democrats' proposal calls for the House of Representatives to abandon ship — potentially for the remainder of the session."
Last month, Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks accused "#Socialist #Democrat" colleagues of supporting remote voting so they could "GET PAID IN FULL without showing up for work at Capitol Hill."
Most of those who are working outside of their homes nationally are "essential workers," using extreme caution and personal protective equipment. Unlike most of his colleagues, Jordan has refused to wear a face mask to protect his colleagues.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.