Speech ● Coronavirus
For Immediate Release: 
May 14, 2020
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) testified before the House Rules Committee on H. Res. 965, a resolution to temporarily implement remote voting on the House Floor and virtual committee proceedings during the coronavirus pandemic.  Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery: 
“Thank you, Chairman McGovern and Ranking Member Cole.  I appreciate the opportunity to testify today on House consideration of H. Res. 965, which I would like to bring to the Floor alongside the Heroes Act.
“The constitutional Framers expressly intended for the House to be closest to the American people and to be their chief representatives in government. They established this House in the very first article of the Constitution and gave it the power to legislate and conduct oversight of the Executive Branch. Never are those responsibilities more critical than during times of crisis.
“We are now in such a crisis, with COVID-19 infections still surging across the country and its economic impacts having led to more than 33 million Americans losing their jobs. The American people need their Representatives to be able to perform the full measure of their duties under our Constitution, which include committees holding hearings and markups and Members debating and voting on the Floor.
"Because of social and physical distancing measures currently in place to save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is unsafe for Members to travel back and forth to Washington from their districts and risk exposing potentially thousands of people while in transit.
“It is also unsafe to require thousands of House staff and Capitol Hill employees to commute to work while infections have not even reached their peak in the Washington Metro area. That’s why we must adopt the kind of virtual practices authorized by this resolution.
“These include video- and tele-conferencing technologies currently used safely and effectively by millions of Americans, including the Senate and the Supreme Court.

"This resolution would also authorize committees to mark up legislation remotely so we can prepare bills and reports and then call them up for Floor action in a way that will minimize the number of days when votes need to be held. For those Members who cannot safely return to Washington at this time, it allows proxy voting as a first step and authorizes the House to begin work on a remote-voting system. Such a system would only be used during emergencies like this one.
“We are not fundamentally changing the way the House works – let me be clear. What H. Res. 965 does is enable the House to meet this moment and do its job in full while we do our part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of those who serve and work here on Capitol Hill.

"While I was disappointed that we were unable to reach a bipartisan agreement on adopting virtual tools for the House, it was not for lack of trying on the part of Democrats and Republicans.

"Thank you, again, Mr. Chairman, for your hard work on this resolution, along with Chairwoman Lofgren of the House Administration Committee. And I appreciate, again, the opportunity to testify in support of it today."