Suppose Boehner resigns, leaving the US House of Representatives without a Speaker. What happens next? Is there some process for operating the House without a Speaker? Or is the election of a new Speaker the required (by law or internal rule) next item of business? If there is such a requirement, what are the details of it?

  • Possible dupe: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/9094/…
    – WBT
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 4:03
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    @WBT - I don't think it's a dupe, but I do think that the same sources are likely to answer both. So definitely relevant.
    – Bobson
    Commented Oct 15, 2015 at 17:26
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    This question is relevant again in 2017. I was actually about to post something like this, and re-found this one.
    – Bobson
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 23:39

1 Answer 1


The election of a new speaker is the first order of business of a new sitting of the house, or on the death or resignation of the existing speaker - so yes, the house will be hamstrung until a new speaker is elected.

As a historical example, in 1854 it took 9 weeks and over 130 votes before a new Speaker was elected - prompting a change in rules to make winning easier (The winner only has to receive the most votes regardless of the number of ballots cast rather than an absolute majority of > 50% of the congressional seats). This time around, they don't have the luxury of that much time as they MUST pass a spending bill by Dec 11th or a government shutdown will occur.

  • This makes perfect sense to me. Do you know where it is actually specified, though? I'd love to read the relevant section.
    – Bobson
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 11:18
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    The section on the rules is here: gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-HPREC-DESCHLERS-V1/html/… Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 11:47
  • Interesting. Thanks for the link! I'm especially amused by On one occasion, the Speaker held the motion to adjourn preferential over a resolution declaring the office of Speaker vacant and providing for the election of a Speaker.
    – Bobson
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 11:54
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    Do bear in mind that, as it was given the authority to organize itself, much of the operation of the Congress is based on custom rather than clearly defined rules. It is an organization of law, primarily built by lawyers, as such the notion of "precedent" is more important than actual statutes themselves. Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 11:58

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