I have to admit it: The launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon was a pretty exciting thing, particularly for an aviation geek like myself.
Granted, it could have come at a much better time. After all, we’re currently socially distancing — if not socially isolating — due to the coronavirus. Talk about a way to knock the return of American astronauts aboard an American spacecraft for the first time in nearly a decade off the front pages.
Nevertheless, for residents of Florida — where the SpaceX craft was being launched from — it was a proud moment. Needless to say, there were plenty of politicians who were happy to attend.
One of them was Charlie Crist. Crist, the former governor of the state, is a Democrat who represents the 13th Congressional District currently. As you can see, he was an excited man:
Looking forward to attending today’s historic manned @SpaceX launch to @Space_Station – the first from American soil since 2011 and first ever on a commercial spacecraft. Huge step for space exploration and Florida! pic.twitter.com/EHhF5U8F5M
— Rep. Charlie Crist (@RepCharlieCrist) May 27, 2020
In a statement, Crist called the launch a “watershed moment for American space exploration.”
“For the first time ever, we’ll be sending Americans up on a commercially-made spacecraft, and we’re doing it from Florida, cementing our state’s starring role in human space exploration,” his statement said.
“Looking forward to attending today’s historic manned @SpaceX launch to @Space_Station – the first from American soil since 2011 and first ever on a commercial spacecraft. Huge step for space exploration and Florida!” he tweeted along with the statement.
Due to his attendance, he would also miss a bunch of votes in Washington. But don’t worry — he’d be voting by proxy, as he said in his statement.
Should these congressmen have skipped work to go to the SpaceX launch?
0% (0 Votes)
0% (0 Votes)
Voting by proxy is when you designate someone else to deliver your vote for you in Congress. It’s not something you’re supposed to do lightly — for a reason like, say, going to see the SpaceX launch. We’ll get to how they got around this in a minute — but first, it’s worth noting that he wasn’t the only one who was doing this.
Rep. Darren Soto of Florida’s Ninth Congressional District, also a Democrat, tweeted a few pictures of himself at the Kennedy Space Center.
“Wishing @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug the best of luck as they lead us into a new era of space flight. Honored to be at @NASAKennedy today to experience this milestone!” he tweeted last week.
Rep. Soto was also voting by proxy. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, per se — except the reason they gave for voting by proxy wasn’t the reason they were actually voting by proxy.
— US Rep. Darren Soto (@RepDarrenSoto) May 27, 2020
See, both of the representatives had said they weren’t going to be taking part in the votes because of reasons that didn’t have to do with watching a rocket launch.
According to Crist’s letter, tweeted by House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, the Florida Democrat said he was “unable to physically attend hearings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency.”
“Then he gave his vote away to someone else so he could attend a rocket launch instead,” McCarthy said.
Democrat Charlie Crist said he couldn’t show up for work in Washington today “due to the ongoing public health emergency.”
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) May 28, 2020
GOP communications director Mark Bednar noticed something similar about Rep. Soto’s message:
And here’s Democrat @RepDarrenSoto‘s request for a proxy to vote for him.
He says “unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing health emergency”
— Mark Bednar (@MarkBednar) May 28, 2020
Apparently, COVID-19 doesn’t exist in the Kennedy Space Center.
I understand the desire to go to a cool event as opposed to doing your job. When I was in middle school, my mom said that I had the flu and took me to go see the New York Rangers 1994 victory parade.
The difference is that I wasn’t elected to go to school. In fact, given how ornery I would have been that day were I not at the parade, my teachers would have gladly elected to make sure I wasn’t at school.
That’s not the case with Reps. Crist or Soto. They were elected to be in Washington, not to be at rocket launches. Rocket launches are cool, but so is being an elected representative of your people.
And as the launch didn’t end up happening on schedule, they ended up using taxpayer money to go see something that didn’t even take place while they were there.
Not only do they get the enmity of their constituents, they didn’t get to see big grumbly explosive thingy go up into the sky!
Good work, gents.
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