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What happens if there is no Speaker of the House? These things cannot be done.

What happens if there is no Speaker of the House? These things cannot be done.

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The first protracted House speaker contest in a century highlighted a potential cascade of dysfunction if one is not elected.

The election of a speaker is the first order of business when each new Congress convenes. The speaker then administers the oath to all elected members; no representatives in the lower house of Congress until a speaker is appointed.

The current Republican standoff, in which a hard right minority insists yes sunk the future presidency of California Republican Kevin McCarthyhalted many of the usual processes in the House, ranging from the most urgent business to basic administration.

Here are just a few of the things Congress can’t do because technically it may not exist:

Draft and pass legislation

Only representatives can introduce legislation in the chamber, meaning the chamber cannot fulfill its primary duty of debating and passing laws. In fact, until members are sworn in, they can’t vote on the rules that will govern the chamber or create committees (focused on topics from taxes to education).

Governmental and public oversight

The House cannot exercise its normally broad powers of inquiry into federal agencies and matters of public concern until the House is properly constituted. That means lawmakers can’t issue subpoenas, subpoena government officials, corporations or experts for hearings or launch investigations into matters of concern to their constituents. In addition, the impasse also stops House Republicans’ investigative wish list.

Receive classified briefings

As lawmakers derive their security clearances from their official positions, newly elected representatives cannot attend secret and top secret briefings they will need to make informed policy decisions. (They also can’t set policy until they’re sworn in.) Some lawmakers did said they had already been rejected from high priority meetings.

Amid the turmoil, House committee officials were informed that if The house rules have not been finalized until January 13, commissions will not be able to process paychecks or student loans.

The stalemate involves real risks. If a crisis occurs at home or abroad, for example, the House of Representatives will not be able to respond, as it did in 2013 and 2020, by passing aid packages in response to Hurricane Sandy and on coronavirus pandemic.

Domestic servants mixed messages received on whether they can help their constituents while the House is out of order. Congressional staff were initially told they could not respond to these routine requests (such as family emergencies related to passports, visas and immigration, and issues related to veterans and student programs). Later guidance called it a “miscommunication” and “the result of the ongoing chaos created by the failure of House Republicans to elect a Speaker.”

But the situation provides some moments of fun usually not caught on camera. This led to some gags about the activity on the house flooras well as points of confusion for administrators tasked with monitoring the camera while stationary.

Although unlikely, with each day that the House is in limbo, the country inches closer to regulatory and financial scales. The Budget for December funds the government until September, meaning that despite the collapse in the House, the federal government can still operate until then.

The multi-day standoff also raises the specter that a similar standoff could happen again, with perhaps far greater consequences. If the House fails to elect a speaker after the presidential elections electionsfor example, there would be no way for the House of Representatives to officially count states’ electoral votes, as it has historically done, along with the Senate, on 6th of January.

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