As pandemic lingers, U.S. House looking 'very closely' at remote voting

By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives is now looking 'very closely' at how its members could vote from outside the Capitol as a coronavirus-forced recess looks poised to last into at least next month, the chamber's No

Reuters April 16, 2020 00:12:50 IST
As pandemic lingers, U.S. House looking 'very closely' at remote voting

As pandemic lingers US House looking very closely at remote voting

By Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives is now looking "very closely" at how its members could vote from outside the Capitol as a coronavirus-forced recess looks poised to last into at least next month, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat said on Wednesday.

That marks a change from recent weeks when both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, were publicly dismissive of calls for remote voting.

The coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 28,000 Americans and thrown more than 16 million out of work, has increased the urgency for Congress to adapt its working style as leaders in both parties say they need to authorize more money to fight the disease's heavy human and economic toll.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said none of the leaders of Congress want remote voting to be routine.

"But in an emergency situation ... we ought to have an alternative," he told reporters on a conference call. "I want to assure you and the American people, it's being worked on very hard."

Leaders are looking at some of the technological ways remote voting could be done, Hoyer said.

But none of the approaches could be done immediately, because congressional rules would have to be modified and there would have to be agreement between Republicans and Democrats, Hoyer said. He noted lawmakers would also have to vote to bring about the rule changes necessary for remote voting. This would require more than 500 members to return to the Capitol, if both House and Senate took the step.

Congress has not met in regular session since last month. Lawmakers in late March passed a $2.3 trillion relief bill on a voice vote. Congressional leaders decided this week to extend on ongoing recess until at least May 4.

"With each passing week, I become much more interested in having a fully functioning remote Congress. This is feeling like an open-ended recess," Representative Jared Huffman said on a conference call with Pelosi and other Democrats earlier this week, according to a source on the call.

The Supreme Court has already rewritten its own rules to allow it to continue functioning during the pandemic.

Its nine justices next month for the first time will hear cases argued by teleconference rather than in the courtroom, to ensure that court business can proceed at a time when public health officials are urging people to maintain social distancing.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.