Congress debates whether representatives should be able to vote from home


WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) — With no sign of the pandemic letting up soon, some in Congress say it’s time figure out a way for lawmakers to vote from home.

“In a world where it’s no longer safe to be within six feet of each other, Congress has to learn how to adapt,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

On a teleconference committee hearing this week, Portman said Congress needs a plan to vote remotely.

“Today, our gathering itself is really part of our case,” he said.

That case, Portman said Friday, is that no matter what, Congress has to keep the government going.

“There is off the shelf technology to be able to allow this to happen,” Portman said.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) agrees, saying security concerns shouldn’t stop Congress from coming up with a plan.

“We hear about potential threats interrupting those votes, from Russia or Iran or something, but we do Facebook live every day, right?” Ryan said. “So you can see and know how the member of Congress voted.”

The House scrapped plans to return to Washington next week, but the Senate still will.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said previously the Senate can meet safely.

“We will deal with the social distancing issue without fundamentally changing the Senate rules,” he said.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) supports remote voting, saying Congress returning puts others at risk.

“It’s also putting our staffs and cleaning crews that come in, and the police officers that come in, it puts them at risk,” Brown said.

Some also worry about remote voting becoming the normal process.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Portman said. “I think this should be just used during times when we cannot come together or should not come together.”

But remote voting would only happen when Congressional leadership agree to it.

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