“Madam Speaker — Today isn’t just a day for debate, it’s also a day for remembrance. It is Peace Officers Memorial Day and the second-to-last day of Police Week.
“So before I begin, I want to say thank you to everyone who serves as a police officer or is the family member of a police officer — including our wonderful Capitol Police and their families, who do an incredible job protecting this campus, its employees, and its visitors.
“As guardians of peace, you are on the frontlines every day. Despite the danger, you are undeterred from performing your duty.
“As the son of a firefighter, I know that you do not do your job for recognition or praise. But you truly deserve our gratitude, especially now. Thank you for everything you do.
“Madam Speaker — The work of our frontline heroes is the definition of essential. It cannot be done remotely or by proxy.
“Why should Congress be any different? We are supposed to represent the people. We should strive to show a level of determination in our important work that is worthy of the police officers we honor today.
“The American people expect us to do our part to defeat this virus — just like they are doing on a daily basis.
“Unfortunately, instead of being ‘captains of this ship’ as Speaker Pelosi recently said, the Democrat proposal calls on Congress to abandon ship — for months or possibly for the rest of the session.
“The Speaker is on the brink of launching the most significant power grab in the history of Congress. It runs counter to 230 years of House rules and even the Constitution. Our Founders would be ashamed that we aren’t assembling.
“I want every American to understand what it means for their members of Congress — the people you chose to be your voice in Washington:
“It means that they can stay home for the rest of the year, but still get paid for the rest of the year. It means that they let someone else — Speaker Pelosi — consolidate power and do their job for them, when they could do it for themselves. And it means they will only participate in legislative theater — while shutting your voice out of the real lawmaking process.
“A virtual Congress would be a Congress that is connected to the Internet, but disconnected from the American people.
“That isn’t fair to our constituents, our colleagues, or our country. And it undermines the very purpose of our representative democracy as our Founders designed it.
“Roger Sherman — the only Founder to sign all four Great State Documents — said in 1789: ‘When the people have chosen a representative, it is his duty to meet others from different parts of the Union, and consult, and agree with them to such acts as are for the general benefit of the whole community.’
“Sherman is right. Especially in a pandemic, our presence here — our Congress together — matters. It matters to our constituents. It matters to our institution. And it matters to all those who will come after us.
“This pandemic has claimed too many lives and livelihoods already. We must not allow this great body we are charged with safeguarding to be the next casualty.
“In fact, aren’t we proving today that we don’t need a virtual Congress? In the middle of this virus, the House is conducting its business while following health guidelines. We can do that at the committee-level too. Our Republican Plan to Reopen the People’s House lays out a bipartisan path forward.
“We don’t have to choose between the health of our Capitol community and the health of this institution. We can continue to work in a safe and effective manner without overturning 230 years of constitutional and legislative tradition. Remote voting should be the final and last option, not the first and only.
“Unfortunately, rather than allowing the most reasoned voices to prevail on this critical matter, my friends across the aisle have surrendered to the loudest voices.
“Madam Speaker — As I look at this reckless proposal, I am reminded of what the great American author James Fenimore Cooper said in 1838: the most dangerous attacks on freedom are made by ‘the largest trustees of authority — in their efforts to increase their power.’ Cooper was correct and that should concern us today.
“By changing the rules to increase the power of a select few, Democrats will forever alter our institution for the worse.That will be your legacy.
“If you enjoy being cut out of the lawmaking process — if you think being a member of Congress is just about voting ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ — then vote for this resolution.
“But if you think our Congress still matters. If you think the People’s voice still matters – I urge all my colleagues to vote no. Stand against this unconstitutional power grab.
“I yield back.”