Amid quarantines and positive COVID-19 tests, Francis Rooney wants Congress working from home
Francis Rooney was the first in the delegation to vote remotely.

Francis Rooney
Some members of Florida's delegation self-quarantined. Another tested positive.

U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney says members of Congress should be able to work — and vote — remotely.

He said the need became especially apparent after two Congressmen, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, and Rep. Ben McAdams, a Democrat from Utah, tested positive for COVID-19.

“We are in a serious, global pandemic, and Congress should utilize modern technology to permit remote voting.

“Votes on spending and response to the pandemic are critical and will need quick action,” said Rooney, a Naples Republican.

“Remote voting is the way to effectuate social distancing and follow proper health procedures. The technology exists — Estonia has used it for years.”

Other members, including U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, have gone under self-quarantine after exposure to members who tested positive.

Murphy said she was in contact with a member who tested positive on Friday, though she did not say whether it was Diaz-Balart or McAdams.

“On the advice of the Attending Physician of the U.S. Congress and out of an abundance of caution, I will be self-quarantining until Friday, March 27,” Murphy said.

“At this point, I plan to network from home on the congressional response to this public health crisis, and my office and I will continue serving the people of Central Florida.”

Previously, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, a Naples Republican, also self-quarantined based on a visit at Mar-a-Lago with a visiting Brazilian delegation that included individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.

Leaders in Congress thus far have resisted calls from members to allow remote voting, despite guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discouraging gatherings of 10 or more people, according to ABC News.

“We will deal with the social distancing issue without fundamentally changing Senate rules,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch Connell said Tuesday.

“We are the captains of the ship. We are the last to leave,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi reported told members last week.

But Rooney said the time has come to employ the same technology allowing many an American worker to work from home.

“This remote vote capability is even more necessary now that there are two Representatives that have tested positive for the virus,” Rooney said. “The work of Congress must continue, but it need not put people at risk unnecessarily.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]



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