A recent article in The Atlantic 1 goes through some rather dire hypothetical scenarios in which constitutional crises arise during the upcoming Presidential elections.

One of their scenarios considers a situation where the count of electoral votes (which takes place in the Hall of the House as required by the Electoral Count Act 2, but is presided over by the President of the Senate as required by the Constitution) has not been completed yet and the Speaker of the House expels the senators:

Before Pence can move on from Pennsylvania to Rhode Island, which is next on the alphabetical list as Congress counts the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expels all senators from the floor of her chamber. Now Pence is prevented from completing the count “in the presence of” the House, as the Constitution requires. […]

However, the Electoral Count Act has the following language in Sec. 7:

[…] Such joint meeting shall not be dissolved until the count of electoral votes shall be completed and the result declared; […]

The language of the Act is rather dense, so maybe I'm missing something, but to me this sounds that the Speaker of the House is not entitled to act as laid out in the Atlantic scenario?

1 Answer 1


That scenario is a bit fanciful. Under the law, the president of the Senate presides and maintains order for this joint session, so any expulsion declaration from the floor would be out of order. Each house can set its own rules, but those rules cannot contradict the law of the United States. Supposing that she managed to expel them physically, that would just delay the process.

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