Can the House Legislate?

By admin
The

US
GPE

government is in a less functional position than usual:

Legislation requires (among other things) a plurality vote of

the House of Representatives
ORG

.

This requires the Speaker of the

House
ORG

to call a vote.

This requires a Speaker of the

House
ORG

The

House
ORG

removed its Speaker on

Tuesday
DATE

We’ve never done this before, so it’s unclear how it will go. The

House
ORG

does have a "Speaker pro-tempore" backup, added in

2003
DATE

, but it’s not clear whether they are allowed to use this position to call votes other than for a new speaker, or, if they would even if allowed:

In the meantime, other action on the

House
ORG

floor, including any legislative business, is likely to be halted.

House
ORG

staff aides believe the acting speaker may wield the gavel only to administer the election of a new speaker. But others argue that as acting speaker, Mr.

McHenry
PERSON

can exercise powers beyond overseeing a speaker’s race, as long as a majority tolerates it. "From an institutional

House
ORG

rules perspective, Speaker

McHenry
PERSON

has the powers of the speakership, and he will continue to exercise those powers to the extent and degree that the majority party is willing to tolerate," said

Josh C. Huder
PERSON

, a senior fellow at

the Government Affairs Institute
ORG

at

Georgetown University
ORG

. "If he does something too brash or too bold, they will rein him in. And that’s really the only thing that’s governing his authority."

House
ORG

rules do not explicitly prohibit the interim speaker from adopting the powers of an elected speaker. But the rule that led to Mr.

McHenry
PERSON

‘s ascent was developed with only temporary absences in mind, not a vacant chair, according to

Stan M. Brand
PERSON

, the former general counsel to the

House
ORG

. That leaves legal room for Mr.

McHenry
PERSON

to exercise broader powers, such as conducting legislative business, if he chooses.—NYT,

2023-10-04
DATE

I’ve started a prediction market, which as of this writing is at

20%
PERCENT

with

four
CARDINAL

traders:

I set the resolution conditions as:

Resolves true if

McHenry
PERSON

uses his current pro-tempore position to allow the

House
ORG

to schedule a vote for anything other than a new Speaker. Resolves false otherwise, including if a new Speaker is elected quickly enough that we don’t find out whether legislating would have been acceptable.

I interpret this as a combination of whether it is strictly permitted and how long it might take to elect a new Speaker: if one can be elected quickly (market) then there’s much need for

McHenry
ORG

to call votes. I think it’s probably legally allowed but socially not (yet) allowed, and the latter is more likely to change the longer we go without being able to elect a Speaker.