The New York TimesThe New York Times

Lacking a speaker, one part of government ceases to function

By Luke Broadwater

05 Jan 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

The stand-off as Kevin McCarthy tries—and fails— to become House speaker has implications for the U.S., the NYT explains, as lawmakers are unable to pass bills or adopt resolutions while it persists.

WASHINGTON — The personal and political drama that is playing out on the House floor as Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tries and fails repeatedly to become speaker has broader implications for the country, raising questions about what happens when one chamber of the legislative branch ceases to function.

Without a speaker, the U.S. House of Representatives essentially becomes a useless entity. Because none of its members can be sworn in until a speaker is chosen, there are no lawmakers to respond to an emergency or a crisis, only representatives-elect. With no rules adopted, the legislative process cannot move forward; no bills can be passed or resolutions adopted.

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