May 20 (UPI) -- House lawmakers will be able to cast votes and conduct committee meetings remotely for the next month and a half under a new rule Wednesday from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi used the authority under new House rules to allow remote participation for as many as 45 days during a public health emergency. The measure was approved largely along party lines in a vote last week.
Pelosi said in a letter to House lawmakers she was invoking the authority and the 45-day period began Wednesday.
Under the measure, a single representative in the lower chamber can act as a proxy for as many as 10 lawmakers for floor votes. It also allows committees to hold remote hearings and to mark up legislation.
Democratic leaders decided against physically reconvening the House late last month out of concern for potential health risks due to the ongoing pandemic. The Republican-led Senate has already begun resuming in-person sessions.
House Republicans opposed the rule allowing remote participation, instead favoring in-person sessions with added safety measures.