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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi enters the Rose Garden on Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is expected to extend proxy voting through the fall — and potentially until the end of the year — Democratic lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: The spread of the Delta variant has alarmed both members and staffers anxious about interacting with the unvaccinated. Pelosi’s anticipated move — continuing an emergency COVID-19 measure enacted last year so lawmakers could vote remotely — is aimed at allaying those concerns.

  • “Extending the proxy-voting process is the only rational course forward,” said Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas). “Hopefully, the surge will subside sooner than later, and if so, then perhaps life can get back to normal.”
  • The move also will give lawmakers more flexibility to attend events in their districts throughout the fall amid potential razor-thin votes on a bipartisan infrastructure deal, budget reconciliation resolution, annual spending package and motion to increase the debt ceiling.
  • With just a 220-211 Democratic majority, Pelosi has little margin for error. She also can't afford to lose older members to the virus.
  • A Pelosi aide said no decisions have been made about extending proxy voting and stressed that the Speaker would follow the guidance of the Office of Attending Physician.

Driving the news: Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) announced over the weekend he had contracted the coronavirus for a second time, saying he had his first bout in January 2020.

  • While Higgins has encouraged his constituents to get vaccinated, he has not said whether he himself has gotten a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Last week, a vaccinated member of Pelosi’s staff, as well as a vaccinated White House official, tested positive after attending the same event.

The big picture: In the face of the Delta variant, the Biden administration is grappling with how to modify public health guidance, and whether to recommend any new masking requirements.

  • The White House is “always going to be guided by our North Star, and that is the CDC and our health and medical experts,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday.
  • The New York Times reported Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs will require its frontline health care workers to get the vaccine in the next two months.
  • Pelosi's home state of California also announced Monday it will require state employees and all health care workers to show proof of a coronavirus vaccination or get tested weekly, beginning next month.

But, but, but: While cases are up — with the 7-day average of new cases north of 50,000 — the number of hospitalizations is not as high as previous waves.

  • In the United Kingdom, which is further along in its Delta wave than the U.S., the number of new cases has dropped six days in a row — down to roughly 25,000 cases from a high of nearly 55,000 on July 17.

Be smart: Pelosi is under pressure from some members to extend proxy voting indefinitely, Delta variant or not.

  • While remote voting remains controversial for political purists, it's become popular with members of both parties.
  • "It is time for Congress to revisit proposals that would allow some more expeditious form of proxy voting on a permanent basis," said Rep. Vela. "Members should have the flexibility to vote from wherever they may be, if their service requires their presence elsewhere."

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February — FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated".
  2. Vaccines: Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: Beijing Olympic Committee lowers COVID testing threshold ahead of Games — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Nov 3, 2021 - Health

CDC: U.S. not considering changing definition of "fully vaccinated"

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is "not examining" changing its definition for what it means to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday.

Driving the news: Walensky had previously said the U.S. "may need to update" its definition after the approval of booster shots.

Bipartisan group of senators announce compromise on voting rights bill

Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday announced a compromise on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Why it matters: The proposal comes after several months of bipartisan negotiation that aimed to build "broader support" for the bill in the Senate, where Republicans have blocked previous House-passed voting measures.

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