Tammy Duckworth refused proxy vote in Dem caucus
Posted @ 8:01 AM on November 14, 2014 by Jazz Shaw
I suppose part of the not-breaking news here is that Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D – Illinois 8th) is pregnant. She is expecting in the near future, and her doctor has advised her not to travel in the final weeks of her pregnancy. Unfortunately, that meant that she would miss some key Democrat caucus votes as they settle on their new leadership for the next term. In order to get around this problem, she asked to be allowed to vote by proxy. As National Journal notes with great umbrage, the answer was no.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who is expecting a baby in December, is being denied a request to vote by proxy in the House Democratic Caucus leadership and committee member elections next week—even though her doctor advises she can’t travel to Washington in the late stages of her pregnancy.
The Iraq War veteran, who lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down in 2004, made the request in a letter to fellow Democrats. Her letter was read during a closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting on Thursday. But objections were raised, and the request was denied, with opponents including Democratic Steering and Police Committee cochair Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Some are immediately suspicious about the motives for denying this request, particularly with all the maneuvering going on as key positions change hands. National Journal goes above and beyond the call – as other already have – to point out that she’s an injured Iraq veteran. Andshe’s a woman. And she’s going to have a baby. If there were any way possible to somehow blame the operations of the House Democratic Caucus on the Republicans we would have already seen more than a thousand claims regarding the War on Women.
More at the link. Now, try to imagine all of the #WarOnWomen screeches from the left had Mrs Duckworth been a Republican congresswoman!
Remember what this is: it is not an official congressional vote, but simply a vote in the Democratic Caucus, which can set its own rules without the consent of those wicked ol’ Republicans. And points were made about other congressmen then wanting waivers for proxy votes, for less serious reasons. I suppose that Nancy Pelosi is telling us, as only she can, that she’s just as stupid as public administrators who set forth without exception, zero tolerance policies, because they are deathly afraid that someone, somewhere, will call them to account for exercising judgement on something. And, in the case of the lovely Mrs Pelosi, I can see why her judgement should never be trusted!
But this case points out something I see as a larger issue: why must our senators and representatives spend so much time in Washington in the first place? Other than the Constitutional requirement that the Congress must assemble at least once per year, the power of each House to set its own rules for proceeding, there is nothing which would prohibit the Congress from conducting some of its business via Skype, or some other video conferencing format.
If we had a Congress which did significant business, including voting in committee and on the floor, via video conferencing, they could spend that much more time actually in their districts. Right now, only the few congressmen and senators who represent districts within reasonable commuting distance from the District of Columbia — meaning: parts of Maryland, Virginia and, as Joe Biden famously demonstrated, Delaware, — have the luxury of not maintaining separate lives in the District. Heck, part of Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) problem is that she has no real residence in the Bayou State, claiming her parents’ home as her Louisiana residence, while listing her real residence as a $2.5 million mansion on Capitol Hill. If the Congress would allow some form of long-distance meeting, our senators and representatives could be closer, physically closer, to the people they have been elected to represent, and I can see that only as a good thing.
We already have a form of this in the Presidency. Camp David has long been set up so that Presidents can take a break from the White House, and still be “on duty” there. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the younger George Bush all conducted business from their own homes in California and Texas. The office of the President is, in effect, wherever the President happens to be, but even in the 1960s there was sufficient technology to allow that to work. The problem is different when it comes to a body of many members, but the technology now exists, and many corporations conduct some of their business in this manner.
There are only good things which could result from this:
- Congressmen wouldn’t have to be separated from their families as often. Wouldn’t it be better for our senators and representatives to be living with their spouses and children, to maintain more normal family lives?
- Lobbyists would have less access to congressmen; the crowd of lobbyists who can blend in in Washington DC would stand out like a sore thumb in the Somerset, Kentucky home of Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY 5th District)
- Congressmen would be closer to the people who elected them, enabling their constituents to see and talk to their representatives more easily.
- Congressmen might have to spend less of their own money on second residences in Washington, putting less financial pressure on them when unsavory characters ty to bribe them.
- Congressmen would be more separated from their party leadership, increasing their independence from the leadership.
- Congressmen would not be so separated from the way their constituents live. Spending too much time in Washington means not living in the same conditions as constituents in Hedrick, Iowa or Elko, Nevada. There is a lot of difference between life in Lexington and Ravenna, but at least Representative Andy Barr (R-KY 6th District), who lives in Lexington but represents both, would be a lot closer.
There’s just no downside to this idea. And with the approval ratings of Congress somewhere in the septic tank, they might have a chance to give the public more confidence in them. Why not try it?
|LTC Duckworth’s Awards|| Purple Heart
Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal with Oak leaf cluster
Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with four Oak leaf clusters
Combat Action Badge
Senior Army Aviator Badge