Citing the public health danger of COVID-19, the House of Representatives on May 15 passed H. Res. 965, a rule allowing Members of the House to vote by proxy. Passage of that rule was a blow to representative government in the United States and an affront to the right of Americans to be represented in Congress by the people they elected.
Six of the seven Virginia Democratic Members of the House voted for this historic betrayal of the American people: Don Beyer (VA-8), Gerald Connolly (VA-11), Donald McEachin (VA-4), Bobby Scott (VA-3), Abigail Spanberger (VA-7), and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10). (The only exception was Rep. Elaine Luria, VA-2.)
Congressional Democrats embraced an inappropriate analogy by voting for H. Res 965. Stockholders own and control their voting rights because they own the stock. Members of a homeowners association own and control their voting rights because they own their homes. By contrast, the right to vote in Congress is not property that can be transferred to another by proxy; votes are held in trust by Members of Congress as the agents of the people of their congressional district. Proxy voting based on personal property rights cannot justify proxy voting by elected officials.
The right of people to be represented by their elected representative is effectively nullified if their representative presumes to issue a proxy that gives control of his or her vote to another Member of Congress. That right also is effectively nullified if a representative of another district presumes to vote and act for them. The rule authorizing proxy voting makes a mockery of peoples’ right to be represented by the person they elected.
Proxy voting also nullifies the people’s ability to hold their elected representatives accountable.
The people in a congressional district could remove their representative from office if they disapprove of their representative’s votes in Congress. But the people cannot exercise that right to hold accountable representatives from other Congressional Districts who use proxies to cast votes unacceptable to them.
No member of Congress has the right to transfer his or her lawful status to represent a particular congressional district to another member of Congress. No member of Congress has the right to presume to cast a vote on behalf of a congressional district that he or she does not lawfully represent. No House rule can authorize such abuses of power.
Our rights must not be trampled on by a House rule that places the personal convenience and individual health concerns of members of Congress above the duties and obligations they owe to the people. The House rule authorizing proxy voting is not a mere internal House procedure, but a travesty that disenfranchises the people.
Any member of Congress who gives control of his or her vote to another betrays the people of his Congressional District. Any member who presumes to cast the vote of another usurps the vote of the member who issued the proxy. Members who acquiesce in proxy voting by others are complicit in the other members’ violation of the people’s rights.
The passage of H. Res. 965 constitutes an historic betrayal of the American people.
By voting for H.Res. 965, six of the seven Virginia Democrats in the House showed that they do not respect the people of their Congressional Districts; that they do not respect the right of the American people to be represented by their elected representatives in Congress; and that they do not consider fidelity to their constituents to be as important as their personal convenience and health concerns.
If Virginia Democrats who voted for the House rule authorizing proxy voting are not held accountable by the people of their respective districts, then who knows what other rights of the American people will be similarly sacrificed in the future under the pretext of a House rule?
Virginia voters should ask whether they can afford to place their faith in elected representatives who are willing to betray the people’s rights to vote and choose their elected representatives in order to satisfy the partisan convenience and interests of the Democratic Party.
In the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln spoke of the resolve “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” The Virginia Congressional Democrats who voted for H.Res. 965 showed that they stand for government of the party, by the party, and for the party.
Emilio Jaksetic, a retired lawyer, is a Republican in Fairfax County.There are currently no comments highlighted.