If (as in the show “Designated Survivor,”) all Congressman but one are killed, would it be possible (in the US Constitution) for actions of Congress to be taken by the sole remaining Congressman?

Would this give that one survivor almost dictatorial powers to change the law at will?


The constitution contains rules for how the government should operate in normal times. It can't provide for every eventuality, or for every emergency situation. While the constitution does give guidance for how government should proceed in some situations (for example the 25th amendment provisions for the removal of a President who is unable to discharge the powers of the office) There is nothing for dealing with the situation in which only one congressman remains alive. What would actually happen is the constitution would be suspended, the President and military would have de-facto powers to govern until whatever it was that killed off all the other congressmen was dealt with, and then there would be some kind of emergency elections leading to a re-establishment of constitutional government.

Some facts are clear, even in the current constitutional arrangement. No the lone survivor could not claim to be "Congress" Any legislation must pass both houses and the survivor could not be both a representative and a senator.

  • 1
    The 26th Amendment changed the voting age to 18. I assume you mean the 25th Amendment?
    – Just Me
    Mar 25 '20 at 10:29
  • To play devil's advocate, what if 1 Senator, 1 representative and 1 person in the line of secession survived? Could these 3 people act as House, Senate and President to pass bills with just the 3 of them?
    – divibisan
    Mar 26 '20 at 1:24
  • no See paragraph 1. The constitution is not like a law of nature.
    – James K
    Mar 26 '20 at 6:39

Section 5 1: Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business


If more than half of a House is killed, it will not be able to establish a quorum. Under the normal meaning of "quorum", that would mean that it would not be able to pass legislation.


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