On Same Day First U.S. Senator Tests Positive for Coronavirus, Portman Urges Colleagues to Pass Bipartisan Remote Voting Plan

March 22, 2020 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC  - This evening on the Senate floor – on the same day the first U.S. senator tested positive for the coronavirus – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) joined his colleague, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), in urging the Senate to pass their bipartisan resolution to amend the Standing Rules of the Senate to allow senators to vote remotely during a national crisis. During certain crises, such as the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, guidelines from the CDC may advise against convening the full Senate in the Capitol. However, that should not prevent Congress from safely engaging in its constitutional responsibility to convene during a crisis, conduct its basic constitutional duties, and enact responsible legislation for the nation. Specifically, during a national crisis that makes it infeasible for the senators to vote in person, the resolution gives the Majority and Minority Leaders the joint authority to allow secure remote voting. Remote voting would then be allowed for up to 30 days. The Senate would have to vote to renew remote voting every 30 days. 

A transcript of his remarks can be found below and a video can be found here.

“I appreciate your yielding for a question. My question is a comment, to thank you for your support of this on the other side of the aisle. This is a bipartisan effort to ensure that we can be able to do our duty, as the legislative branch, Article I, we have responsibilities here. This is our duty station. And yet, if we cannot be here, we still need to be able to do it remotely. And with the technology we now have, we have the ability to do that, as my colleague from Illinois has said, in a safe and secure way. So I thank him for his advocacy of this. And my hope is that we can have this as a possibility should we not be able to gather. I think what’s happened in the last several hours as we’ve learned about our colleagues who are self-quarantining, one who tested positive, as I understand it, it’s very important that we have that ability. So I thank my colleague.”