Contact: Louisa Tavlas
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 14, 2021 — Today, the Niskanen Center led a bipartisan coalition letter urging Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) of the Committee on Rules & Administration to support S.Res.201 to amend procedures to allow Senators to cast their votes outside of the Senate chamber in limited circumstances. The effort is led by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and has support across the aisle in the Senate. Our partners, Demand Progress, organized a similar letter directed to Senate leadership.
S.Res.201 amends the Senate’s Standing Rules to enable the participation of absent Senators during a national crisis. The measure allows Members of the Senate to use technology certified by Senate officers to cast their votes from outside the Senate chamber in circumstances when the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders jointly determine an “extraordinary crisis of national extent exists.”
“It’s high time to implement policies that reflect the realities of our lawmaking bodies and the incredible capabilities of America’s technological and security advancements, ” said Kristie De Peña, Niskanen’s vice president of policy. “We are proud that so many prominent organizations joined us in this effort to encourage pragmatic changes at this critical juncture,” De Peña added.
Several recent events underscore the potential susceptibility of our political system to unanticipated circumstances and the importance of ensuring our democratic processes remain intact regardless of domestic emergencies. It is undeniable that new threats and unforeseen circumstances will arise in the future. This resolution allows us to mitigate potential effects on America’s ability to continue to govern at full capacity.
“The Senate is operating without a safety net and must act now to ensure it can function in a future emergency,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress. “We are encouraged by the bipartisan efforts of Sens. Portman and Durbin to plan for the future and we commend their bipartisan efforts to ensure our democracy endures,” Schuman added.
The Niskanen Center is a 501(c)(3) advocacy organization established in 2014 to change public policy through direct engagement in the policymaking process.