In the ocean that is the coronavirus, this is merely a drop. But it is an interesting exercise in considering the long-term effects of the pandemic, both large and small.
The U.S. House of Representatives last week was going to consider provisions for members to vote by proxy. That would allow representatives to cast votes from afar, a seemingly simple endeavor in this digital age.
So, they were going to consider it. And then they weren’t. And now they still might. And for those who are fascinated by the machinations of our federal government, there are interesting arguments on both sides.
Members of Congress, you see, are required to be in Washington, D.C., in order to vote on legislation. This is simply a rule for both chambers, not a law, and it is a rule being tested by the bizarre circumstances that result from social distancing. A couple weeks ago, there was to be a vote in the House of Representatives; they could have held a “voice” vote that does not require a quorum and been done with it. But one member insisted on a roll-call vote, requiring members to return from their home districts.
“I got on a plane and it was a red-eye and the second leg of my flight got cancelled,” Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C. “I was calling all over trying to find a flight.” It’s not quite the horse-and-buggy and dirt-road days of the 1800s, but traveling between this Washington and that Washington can be a burden.