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13 House Republicans who skipped COVID-19 bill vote slated for CPAC

Former President Donald Trump addresses attendees, saying his political journey is "far from over," at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 27 (UPI) -- Thirteen House Republicans skipped the House vote on a COVID-19 relief bill and instead attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla.

The representatives filed paperwork Friday to have colleagues cast their votes against the COVID-19 relief bill, citing the ongoing pandemic. But they were actually scheduled to speak at CPAC, CBS News and CNN reported.

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House Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which includes $1,400 direct payment stimulus checks, early Saturday morning in a 219-212 vote, despite unanimous Republican opposition.

Some of the House Republicans were slated to address the annual conference for conservative activists Friday, including Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Tedd Budd, R-N.C., Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., and Greg Steube, R-Fla.

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Others were slated for Saturday and Sunday remarks, including Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., Mark Green, R-Tenn., Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Mike Kelly, R-Pa., Darrell Issa, R-Calif., Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Ralph Norman, R-S.C., Jim Banks, R-Ind., and Ronny Jackson, R-Texas.

"Congressman Issa complied with all House voting rules in lodging his opposition to what the Democrats labeled as COVID relief, but that devoted more than 90% of its total to non-COVID spending," Issa's spokesman, Jonathan Wilcox, said in a statement to CNN.

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Cawthorn has previously criticized the vote-by-proxy rule during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"Leaders show up no mater how uncertain the times are," Cawthorn tweeted last summer. "The Democrats are cowards for not showing up to work."

Norman told CNN that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi changed the schedule on voting for COVID-19 relief "to interfere with CPAC," but he cited the public health matter as a reason to vote by proxy because it was "the only thing you could check."

"Apparently hypocrisy has become a tenant of the Republican Party," House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., told CNN. "Let me get this straight: these members can't vote in person because of the pandemic, but they manage to attend CPAC? They were even maskless at this super spreader event. It's outrageous!"

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