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WASHINGTON – House Republicans were furious over the summer when the House made undisclosed changes allowing lawmakers to appoint a proxy and vote on their behalf amid travel problems due to the COVID pandemic- 19.

They held press conferences. They lobbied their members against using the proxy function. Republican House leaders even took legal action against the change, calling it unconstitutional.

But now it looks like a lot of GOP members have changed their minds. And a host of Republicans have appointed proxies, each citing “the ongoing public health emergency,” to travel to Florida for the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Since Thursday, when CPAC began its annual conference, nearly two dozen House Republicans have written letters to the House Clerk advising him of their absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have appointed an attorney. to vote on their behalf. Others, including several speakers from CPAC, have appointed proxies to vote before Thursday.

U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday February 26, 2021, in Orlando.

Democrats have criticized the move, criticizing what they call the Republicans’ hypocrisy.

“Apparently hypocrisy has become a tenant of the Republican Party,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., wrote on Twitter, noting the months the GOP complained about proxy voting. “Let me clarify this: these MPs cannot vote in person because of the pandemic, but they manage to attend CPAC?” … They were even maskless during this super spreader event! It’s scandalous.

Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., Agreed, writing on Twitter that those Republicans were skipping a vote on a $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package at the Conservatives’ annual conference.

“My Republican colleagues here have called us ‘cowards’ for voting by proxy during the pandemic, filed a lawsuit to end it, and even introduced a bill to take away the wages of MPs who vote by proxy. power of attorney, ”Beyer wrote. “Now they are in Orlando voting by proxy for CPAC as we debate and vote on Covid aid.”

Members of both parties took advantage of proxy rules, which the House established last summer as the pandemic ravaged the country – including spreading through the halls of Congress. For months, Republicans had criticized Democrats for using proxies as a way to take a day off, including attending a space launch in Florida over the summer.

“It’s not Ferris Bueller’s day off. It’s the United States Congress,” Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said in may as he denounced several Democrats who attended a launch after signing a letter saying their absence was due to the public health crisis.

The list of Republicans who wrote letters appointing an attorney includes speakers at CPAC on Friday, such as Reps Matt Gaetz, R-Fla .; Greg Steube, R-Fla .; Madison Cawthorn, RN.C .; and Ted Budd, RN.C. Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., Who is speaking at the conference on Saturday, signed a lawsuit against the proxy voting.

Several other people speaking on CPAC on Saturday also said they would vote by proxy, including Reps Paul Gosar, R-Ariz .; Devin Nunes, R-Calif .; Mike Kelly, R-Penn .; Lauren Boebert, R-Colo .; and Jim Banks, R-Ind.

Many of those lawmakers were among Republicans who spoke out against proxy rules when they were created and criticized Democrats for using them.

“Leaders show up no matter how uncertain the times are. Democrats are cowards to hide and not show up for work,” Cawthorn wrote on Twitter in July. “Guess we can label them as ‘Non-essential staff’?”

Banks have also voiced their opposition to the policy, writing on Twitter last year that he would not use proxy rules to vote. “I will not pass on my constitutional duty and vote by proxy – especially when we expect millions of workers to rise up every day and get down to work to move our nation forward,” he said. wrote on Twitter in May.

Banks and Cawthorn did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Republicans sued for proxy voting, use it now to attend CPAC

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