House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions has rebuked Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for voting on behalf of Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
On Tuesday, Wasserman Schultz was in the speaker's lobby next to the House floor while her home-state colleague was caught up in an interview nearby with a reporter just before a roll-call vote, according to The Hill
"Deb, are you going in?" Diaz-Balart asked before handing her his voting card, The Hill said. "Can you…" he said, his voice trailing off as he handed her the card.
Wasserman Schultz, who often goes on the offensive against Republicans as the DNC leader, looked puzzled at first.
"Yeah, the opposite, the opposite," Diaz-Balart said smiling, before asking her to give his vote as the opposite of hers during the roll-call vote, the political news website said.
After Wasserman Schultz returned from the floor, she acknowledged: "He handed off his voting card to me, yes." And Diaz-Balart also confirmed to The Hill that Wasserman Schultz, a personal friend despite their political beliefs, had cast a vote in his place.
"As long as we're here we can do it," he said. "This is part of the floor, as you know. You see people do it all the time. I can't be in my office, I can't leave here and do it."
But according to The Hill, the House rules state that representatives "may not authorize any other person to cast the vote of such member or record the presence of such member in the House," and that "no other person may cast a member's vote or record a member's presence."
However, members often ignore those rules to help each other out by punching in someone else's votes in the crowded boxes that record each roll-call.
In most cases, a Democrat would do a favor for another Democrat and a Republican would cast a vote for another Republican, with these types of stand-in votes being conducted with both members on the House floor at the time.
Rules chief Sessions of Texas told The Hill that he planned to speak to Wasserman Schultz and Diaz-Balart about the dubious move.
"The members need to be on the floor voting," said Sessions. "That's the rule. Members need to be present, on the floor and voting.
"When people are on the floor and we go into two-minute voting, it is not unusual for me to hand my card to another member while I am on the floor watching that."
But he noted that the courtesy doesn't allow for members to pass their voting cards to other members off the House floor, as in the speaker's lobby.
"That is not allowed, you do not do that," Sessions said, while vowing to "take care of that matter."
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