House Democrats violated the Constitution in December in approving the $1.7 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 omnibus spending bill with proxy voting, according to an amicus brief introduced by Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas.
Roy, along with nine other Republican members of Congress, were set to submit the amicus brief Tuesday about the harms of congressional proxy voting through a representative due to an absence. The brief supports a lawsuit brought by the state of Texas to invalidate the Consolidated Appropriations Act’s passage.
The 10 members of Congress pledged their support of Texas v. Garland, a Feb. 15 lawsuit calling the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 unconstitutional due to the absence of a quorum present in the House of Representatives.
The spending bill passed mostly along party lines on a 225-201 vote. Nine Republicans voted for the bill, while one Democrat voted against it.
“For the first time in our nation’s history, by using proxy voting, Congress engaged in voting on the passage of bills outside the hallowed halls of the Capitol,” the brief states.
The language of the Constitution requires members of Congress to vote within the walls of the Capitol—no matter what, according to the brief.
“For 231 years, Congress has met in person,” the 10 lawmakers wrote. “The Constitution’s requirements survived wars, pandemics, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and numerous other crises through history, and Congress had never voted by proxy to enact bills before 2020.”
Though it was unconstitutional, lawmakers started using proxy voting due to fear of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they continue to vote through a representative for convenience, the brief explains. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., authorized proxy voting in March 2020, and her successor as speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., ended it on Jan. 19.
“While the House has ended proxy voting under Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s tenure, only the judiciary is able to vindicate the constitutional interests of the American people, which were violated previously by the House,” the brief says.
“To add insult to injury, the proxy voting allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic extended far beyond the opening of the U.S. Capitol, and many members chose to vote via proxy not for fear of catching the virus, but for the sake of convenience—to campaign and take vacations,” the brief reads.
In Texas v. Garland, Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton argues the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which Congress passed on Dec. 23 and President Joe Biden signed on Dec. 29, did not legally become law because a majority of the House was not present when the chamber voted to accept the Senate’s amendments and approve it.
The 10 representatives behind the amicus brief—who say they have witnessed the harms of proxy voting—support the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction.
“What was passed in December is destroying America,” said Roy, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. “We are spending money we don’t have, driving up inflation. Now, interest rates are soaring to try to combat inflation, but we’re undermining the economy.”
Republicans “need to do our job—cut spending and stand up for this country, [and] get rid of the regulations constraining economic growth,” Roy told host Harris Faulkner on the Fox News Channel.
Republican Reps. Andy Ogles of Tennessee, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Clay Higgins of Louisiana, Warren Davidson of Ohio, and John Rose of Tennessee were among the other GOP representatives who joined Roy in signing the brief.
The Mountain States Legal Foundation filed the brief on the lawmakers’ in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Lubbock Division. Judge James Wesley Hendrix, an appointee of President Donald Trump, is assigned to the case.
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