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House Passes McGovern Resolution Temporarily Implementing Remote Voting and Virtual Committee Proceedings

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Washington, May 15, 2020 | comments
Ensures Congress Can Continue Legislating During the Coronavirus Pandemic
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WASHINGTON, DC — On the House Floor today, Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) urged passage of a resolution to ensure Congress can continue legislating during COVID-19. H.Res 965 would temporarily implement remote voting on the House Floor and virtual committee proceedings during the coronavirus pandemic. More information on the resolution is available here. Chairman McGovern opened debate on this measure when he brought the rule for this resolution and H.R. 6800, the Heroes Act, to the House Floor this morning. 

Excerpts from Chairman McGovern’s remarks are below, video of his full remarks is available here:

  • “M. Speaker, we are in the midst of a pandemic the likes of which the world hasn’t seen in more than 100 years. The question before us today is a simple one: will this institution, which has adapted to challenges and technology time and time again throughout its history, adapt so we can continue legislating during this public health emergency.”
  • “Think about the way we normally operate. Members travel frequently from their home states - some of which are coronavirus hot spots - to convene together here in the Capitol complex. Then, we travel back home at the end of the week. And we repeat this process month after month. Along the way, we come in contact with fellow travelers, staff, colleagues, the general public, press, and the hundreds and hundreds of people who help make this House operate.”
  • “There is no telling who among them could have compromised immune systems, pre-existing conditions, or other heightened risk for illness. But we know just how easy this virus spreads among those with strong immune systems. That is why the choices that each one of us makes are especially important. This is not about protecting Members of Congress – this is about protecting all of those we come in contact with.”
  • “Convening Congress must not turn into a super-spreader event.”
  • “Technology has changed considerably over the last 231 years. There are now tools available that make temporarily committee proceedings and remote voting on the House Floor possible. Not forever, just temporarily during this emergency.”
  • “Some on the other side seem to think temporarily embracing technology during this pandemic is a radical idea. What would be radical is if this House did nothing – if we made Members decide between spreading a deadly virus or legislating for the American people. That’s a false choice. We can and should do both.”
  • “Let me repeat: we’re not suggesting permanent changes. No one believes we do our best work in-person and side-by-side more than me. Remote legislating will only be utilized so long as this pandemic continues.”
  • “M. Speaker, this is the type of adapting that this House has always done. Our Founders didn’t vote by electronic device, but we do. Constituents decades ago couldn’t watch Floor proceedings live on C-SPAN or listen to them on radio - but ours can. Changes were made to our quorum requirement time and again, including most recently after the September 11th attacks. I could go on and on. Believe it or not, adapting is action in this institution’s DNA.”
  • “It is now time to act. Some communities have turned a corner with this virus, and I hope that continues. Experts tell us, however, that a second wave this fall could be even more damaging than 
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