House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doubled down Thursday on her opposition to moving the chamber toward remote voting during the pandemic.
The California Democrat said there are too many constitutional and security concerns to make it a realistic option to consider at the moment.
“As we all become more saavy in terms of technology one would say we can transfer that to remote voting but it’s not that easy,” she told reporters on a conference call. “There are some technologies that you might think would be workable — they might not be secure.”
“The rules are what they are now. If the rules need to be changed it needs to be done carefully. It took three years to change the rules after 9/11,” she added.
Members across Capitol Hill have been urging party leaders to consider remote voting to mitigate the risk of exposing lawmakers, and by extension their staffers and families, to coronavirus during travel and voting blocks.
Several lawmakers have tested positive for the virus or came down with similar symptoms, prompting more to go into self-quarantine — since Congress passed the phase two coronavirus bill in early March.
Mrs. Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and all other members of party leadership have pushed back against drastically changing the procedures in either chamber.
Members would need to come back and vote in person in order to approve the rule change, Mrs. Pelosi noted.
The speaker said her Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern is continuing to look into alternatives to voting in person, like voting by proxy.
In the meantime, leadership is trying to rely on voice voting and unanimous consent to pass critical coronavirus bills.
The difficult issue with that is such procedures can be easily blocked or derailed by only a handful of members.
On Thursday, Republican and Democratic senators both blocked opposing proposals under unanimous-consent rules that would have added more funds to programs established under the last $2.2 trillion coronavirus package.