It's likely another excuse to block House-passed legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell claimed on Thursday that any legislation passed by the House of Representatives under its new temporary work-from-home system could be unconstitutional.
The House adopted a 45-day emergency rule earlier this month allowing members to designate a colleague to cast their votes on the floor during the pandemic.
In remarks from the Senate floor on Thursday, the majority leader expressed frustration with the safety measure.
"The Constitution requires a physical quorum to do business. Normally both chambers may presume one. But any House member has a right to demand an in-person attendance check," he explained.
He continued, "The Democrats' new rule says one person may mark himself and 10 others present, even if they are nowhere in sight. A flat-out lie."
McConnell claimed there would be "enormous constitutional questions around anything the House does if they fail to demonstrate a real quorum but plow ahead anyhow."
As Politico noted on Thursday, McConnell seemed to be "hint[ing] that he might not take up legislation passed under this procedure."
The majority leader's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the matter.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Politico this week that McConnell was wrong. "Remote voting by proxy is fully consistent with the Constitution and more than a century of legal precedent, including Supreme Court cases, that make clear the House can determine its own rules," the California Democrat said.
"Leader McConnell's comments are deliberately misleading, as proxy voting has long been used by Senate committees. Simply and sadly, he is trying to find every excuse not to meet the needs of the American people."
Even if McConnell does block new House bills from coming up for Senate votes, it would not be much of a change from his previous inaction. The Kentucky lawmaker has stalled all progressive legislation passed since the Democrats regained their majority last January, and has boasted of being the "Grim Reaper" of the Democratic agenda.
In February, Fox News asked McConnell about claims that he was holding up 395 pieces of House-passed legislation from 2019. He said that he planned to kill every single one of them.
"It is true. They've been on full left-wing parade over there, trotting out all of their left-wing solutions that are going to be issues in the fall campaign," McConnell said. "We're not gonna pass those."
As of Friday, the House had passed 717 bills and resolutions in the 116th Congress. Just 123 of those have been approved by the Senate.
Much of the legislation McConnell is blocking passed the House with some GOP support. These include bills ensuring the right to vote, banning discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, protecting Dreamers, guaranteeing fair pay, making gun background checks universal, and raising the minimum wage.
It also includes the HEROES Act, which would provide about $1 trillion in emergency aid to states and localities struggling with the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.