The Republican congressman strongly opposed allowing proxy voting in the House of Representatives, but he's doing it himself.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) designated a Democratic colleague to cast votes on his behalf on Friday — something many members of Congress have done this year during the pandemic so the can work remotely and minimize the risk of spreading the virus.
Except that Gaetz has spent the year insisting that it shouldn't be allowed.
In a letter to the House clerk, first flagged by Politico, Gaetz claimed that he is "physically unable to attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency." He designated Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii to cast votes on his behalf.
He was able to do this under a provision, enacted in May by the House Democratic majority, temporarily allowing members to work from home during the pandemic. Gaetz and the rest of the Republican minority unanimously opposed the change, with several members denouncing it as "unconstitutional" and the end of "our constitutional republic."
At the time, Gaetz strongly opposed the move.
"The establishment of both parties have engaged in proxy-legislating on behalf of special interests for a generation. Now [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi wants to take it a step further with proxy voting in congress," he tweeted on May 14. "This I cannot support."
A day later, he dedicated a segment of his "Hot Takes" podcast to excoriating the "super partisan mechanisms" of "Nancy Pelosi's Rule."
"Anything that gets the representatives of the people further away from the decision-making process is something that I do not support," he argued. He warned that this would make proxyholders into "super legislators," diminishing the power of the rest of the lawmakers.
Last month, Gaetz penned an op-ed in the Washington Examiner claiming he had changed his mind on remote voting because "if we cannot drain the swamp, we should at least spend less time in it." It was unclear whether he had actually changed his position or whether he was being tongue-in-cheek.
A Gaetz spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.
Gaetz has previously claimed to have COVID-19 antibodies and appeared maskless earlier this month at a crowded Young Republican Club event in New Jersey. Gov. Phil Murphy publicly excoriated him for violating safety rules, telling him to stay out of New Jersey in the future.
Few House Republicans have taken advantage of the work-from-home option, even as coronavirus cases have spiked across the country and within their own caucus. At least 20 members of the House have tested positive thus far.
On Thursday, Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) complained on Twitter, "We have work to do in Washington, yet 84 Democrats decided to stay home and vote by proxy yesterday. We should be working together to extend the Paycheck Protection Program and support American workers."
Less than an hour later, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.