The failure of House Republicans to elect a speaker after multiple rounds of voting on Tuesday didn’t just deny the GOP leadership — it blocked much of the chamber’s operations.
The position is traditionally filled on the first day of a new Congress, followed by the swearing-in of new lawmakers, but elected lawmakers have yet to be sworn in as the floor battle continues into Wednesday.
Incoming lawmakers arrived in Parliament with their families on Tuesday, hoping to pose for a photo and start their first day as lawmakers, but as the speaker election entered multiple rounds of voting, they waited hours — — for the first time in 100 years.
Every new Congress has to pass a new set of House rules, so without a Speaker to oversee their passage, technically none of these rules exist.
There was no House Rules package approved at the close of business in January. On the 13th, the committee will not be able to pay staff, according to a letter sent last week by the committee in charge of administrative affairs, first reported by Politico and obtained by CNN.
The same memo warns that if a blanket of rules is not passed by mid-January, student loan payments for board workers will not be made.
It’s just one of many ways the scramble over the next speaker could prevent the House and the Republican majority from functioning effectively on Opening Day, with some of the harshest penalties falling on rank-and-file staffers.
For committees whose chairs are unknown, they will be led interim by the most senior Republican on the committee, who also served on the panel in the previous Congress, according to letters sent last week.
But without fully functioning committees revising and approving bills before they reach parliament for a vote, little legislative work will be done. That means Republicans may also have to wait to tackle some of their most pressing priorities, including investigations into President Joe Biden’s administration and family.
In addition to their role as speakers effectively running the House, they are also in the running for the presidency — raising questions about what would happen if no one took the second presidency after the vice president.
The President pro tempore of the Senate is third. Mori. Patty Murray was elected to the post on Tuesday, making the Washington Democrat the first woman to hold the job.