Tlaib and MTG among more than 220 House proxy voters on spending bill

Republicans rail against pandemic-era rule as 226 House members from the left to far-right take chance not to vote in person

Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, one of two Democrats to oppose the $1.7tn spending bill that averted a US government shutdown on Friday, did so by voting “present”. But Tlaib was not present at the Capitol, voting instead by proxy.

Proxy voting was instituted during the Covid pandemic and is due to come to an end on 3 January, in the new Congress with Republicans controlling the House.

On Friday, as a huge winter storm bore down on Washington, threatening flights home for Christmas, 226 House members cast proxy votes on the omnibus bill.

Republicans say they will get rid of proxy voting. According to the minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, “In 11 days … [we will] return the House back to a functioning constitutional body by repealing proxy voting once and for all.”

On Friday, some on the right of the GOP, a faction McCarthy must woo if he is to win the speaker’s gavel, claimed the large number of proxy voters on the omnibus bill meant the required quorum was not achieved and the bill could thus be challenged. The chair rejected such claims.

One high-profile rightwinger was among those who voted by proxy. As reported by Business Insider, a vacation in Costa Rica meant Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia skipped in-person voting on the spending bill and other events this week, including the address to Congress by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

By Saturday, Greene was taking heat not just for proxy voting, having introduced a bill to ban the practice earlier this year, but for holidaying while other Georgians endured power outages and plunging temperatures.

There was enough anger to go around. Politico observed that though it understood many members of Congress were not “super thrilled to be in Washington with Christmas in two days … more than half of the chamber skipping out on the most basic duty members face – showing up to vote – is a poor showing, especially given the pandemic rationale under which the system is meant to be used”.

The spending bill passed by 225-201, with Tlaib the lone “present” vote and four Republicans not voting.

Tlaib said: “People are demanding we take meaningful action in providing relief and protection during this public health emergency. This bill does not go nearly far enough in providing that help and support.”

She was joined by another high-profile progressive, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The New Yorker said she voted no because the bill contained a “dramatic increase” in immigration enforcement spending which “cuts against the promises our party has made to immigrant communities across the country”.

Nine Republicans supported the bill. Seven are leaving Congress, among them Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, the two anti-Trump Republicans on the House January 6 committee.

Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Steve Womack of Arkansas supported the bill and will remain in Congress. In the new House, Politico said: “Democrats will surely be getting to know the two of them better.”

McCarthy used a long speech on Friday to play to the rightwingers he needs to be speaker, railing against “a monstrosity” of a bill he said was filled with “leftwing pet projects” and “one of the most shameful acts I’ve ever seen in his body”.

Nancy Pelosi responded with remarks she said were probably her last as speaker.

“It was sad to hear the minority leader earlier say that this legislation is the most shameful thing to be seen on the House floor in this Congress,” the Democrat said.

“I can’t help but wonder, had he forgotten January 6?”


Martin Pengelly and Edward Helmore in New York

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Pelosi: Biden spending plan, infrastructure deal and funding ‘must pass’ next week
Speaker sends letter to party at mercy of warring factions, prompting one reporter to observe: ‘Well, this is raising the stakes’

Guardian staff and agencies

25, Sep, 2021 @9:59 PM

Article image
Biden signs bill averting shutdown as heated infrastructure debate drags on – as it happened
Bill passed by Senate and House extends funding until 3 December as Democrats continue to wrangle over Biden’s agenda – get the latest

Maanvi Singh (now) and Joan E Greve (earlier)

01, Oct, 2021 @2:34 AM

Article image
Trump threatens national emergency in 'next few days' over wall and shutdown
President heads for Camp David as talks drag on in Washington – with Democrats still unlikely to budge

David Taylor and Martin Pengelly in New York

06, Jan, 2019 @11:11 PM

Article image
Democratic standoff as progressives object to Pelosi infrastructure vote plan – as it happened
Progressives say vote on infrastructure bill cannot proceed without vote on reconciliation package

Dani Anguiano (now) and Joan E Greve in Washington and Joanna Walters in New York (earlier)

06, Nov, 2021 @12:04 AM

Article image
‘We’re going to get it done’: Biden vows to break impasse after Capitol Hill talks
President meets Democrats with domestic agenda in jeopardy, but hopes of truce dashed after moderate condemns Pelosi’s tactics

David Smith and Lauren Gambino in Washington

02, Oct, 2021 @12:03 AM

Article image
Top Democrats snub Trump meeting after president says 'I don't see a deal'
Pelosi and Schumer to deal directly with Republicans in bid to avert government shutdown, after president’s tweet suggested he was not willing to negotiate

Lauren Gambino in Washington

28, Nov, 2017 @10:18 PM

Article image
Pelosi rejects Trump shutdown deal before president announces it
President offers temporary concessions and demands border wall but little chance of progress as House speaker says no

Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington and Martin Pengelly in New York

19, Jan, 2019 @11:00 PM

Article image
Democrats prepare for showdown over key spending and climate bill – as it happened
Senate Democrats move forward with $740bn legislative package after Manchin agrees deal with Schumer

Vivian Ho

01, Aug, 2022 @8:16 PM

Article image
Democrats pass Joe Biden’s $1tn infrastructure bill after chaotic day
Intense lobbying helped break an impasse between progressives and centrists

Lauren Gambino in Washington and Adam Gabbatt in New York

06, Nov, 2021 @5:36 AM

Article image
House Republicans set course for shutdown with anti-Obamacare bill

Speaker John Boehner heralds measure to continue funding government certain to be rejected by Democratic Senate

Paul Lewis in Washington

20, Sep, 2013 @1:59 PM