New bill would allow lawmakers to vote by proxy after giving birth

A new bill introduced in the House would allow lawmakers to vote by proxy after giving birth, giving mothers six weeks to spend time with their newborns.

The bill, which has bipartisan backing, is spearheaded by Reps. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fla.) and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), and it would allow colleagues to cast votes on behalf of new mothers.

The ability to vote by proxy was allowed in May 2020, when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) authorized the use as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up. It quickly became a hotly debated issue, as some lawmakers used it to have their vote recorded without being in attendance, not just for reasons related to the pandemic but when attending political events. It was ended when Republicans retook the majority in the lower chamber.

“I just wanted to make sure that this was one, put down on paper, so that there’s some guidance for other members that have kids after me,” Luna told NBC News. “Two, I just don’t think it’s fair to remove moms from the conversation. I can’t help having a baby.”

Jacobs, Luna’s co-sponsor, bonded with her GOP colleague since she worried about having kids while working a job that can be challenging as a new parent.

“And I think it’s important that we have more young people, that we have more parents who are in office, because we just have different issues we’re dealing with, and we need to make sure that Congress is addressing those issues as well,” Jacobs said.

Other members who issued support for the resolution included Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.).

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), another of the bill’s supporters, mostly opposes the idea of voting by proxy since he said it was overused during the pandemic, but he voiced support during Thursday’s introduction of the bill.

“They used it to go to fundraisers, they used it to go on vacations. I mean, they’d just fake things, but you can’t fake a pregnancy.”

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