As Coronavirus Spreads in the Capitol, Why Can’t Congress Vote Remotely?
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From the Washington Post:

As coronavirus spreads in the Capitol, why can’t Congress vote remotely?

Amber Phillips
March 23, 2020 at 9:56 a.m. PDT

… Congress has a rule: No voting remotely, no matter what.

A bipartisan group of younger lawmakers is trying to change that. For the past four Congresses, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) has introduced a resolution to allow Congress to vote remotely on noncontroversial bills such as naming post offices. Eric A. “Rick” Crawford (R-Ark.) has also joined in recent Congresses to introduce it.

And it has gone nowhere.

But now that Congress is getting to a situation where face-to-face voting could be downright dangerous, it’s possible the centuries-old practice of in-person voting could change. Three members of Congress have tested positive for the virus, and more than two dozen have gone into quarantine after brushes with it, meaning they could miss important votes on bailout packages.

The U.S. Capitol building isn’t terribly spacious relative to the large number of people who crowd into it.

On Sunday, President Trump said he’d support remote voting. Top House Democrats have privately floated it.

In the Senate, there’s a new bipartisan proposal to vote remotely for up to 30 days.

As I’ve long mentioned, the real power players in almost every society rely on face to face contact to a very high degree. Not even having your own TV show is quite as effective: E.g., when Tucker Carlson decided he had to get through to Trump on the threat, he drove to Mar-a-Lago and talked to the President in person.

But it’s time for legislative bodies to vote themselves emergency powers to vote remotely (and authorize subordinate deliberative bodies to do the same). Also, suspend rules against wearing masks on the floor.

In general, everybody needs to be gameplanning for dire scenarios and looking for existing rules that would gum up the works.

But no permanent changes. Put an expiration date on all temporary changes in response to the emergency.

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