House Democrats Who Use ‘COVID Proxy Voting’ The Most Are Also Big Campaign Travelers

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced last week that the COVID relaxations allowing for voting by proxy in the House are being extended through the end of next month. The proxy rules were implemented for the stated purpose of letting lawmakers who are concerned about coronavirus avoid ordinary travel to the Capitol. As things have turned out, the House members who have used the temporary system the most have also traveled the campaign trail regularly.

Proxy voting during the pandemic has been used by Democrats almost exclusively. Around 12,500 votes have been cast by proxy on behalf of lawmakers who were deemed unable to come to the House floor because of the “unprecedented nature” of the pandemic. However, they have not been deterred from luxury travel around the nation while campaigning for re-election.

Leading the way is Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who voted by proxy 141 times last year. He racked up $45,000 in travel costs at exclusive hotels during the same time. His stays were at luxury spots like the Fairmont San Francisco, the Las Vegas Cosmopolitan, and the five-star Conrad Hotel in Manhattan. He also spent close to $50,000 on airfare jetting to top destinations last year.

Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) was another heavy user of the proxy system so he could avoid coming to work while spending thousands on luxury hotels. Last October 12, he voted by proxy because of the “ongoing public health emergency” while spending over $2,000 for lodging at an exclusive Atlanta hotel the same day. The following week he voted by proxy again on the same day he appeared maskless with Joe Biden and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) to promote Biden’s “Build Back Better” spending agenda.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) led a lawsuit that challenged proxy voting as unconstitutional last year that the Supreme Court ultimately rejected. House Republicans have said they will terminate the system if they retake control of the House in this year’s midterm elections. They would do well to challenge vulnerable Democrats on the issue as electioneering travel increases through the year.