This link explains how the House of Representatives elects the president and vice president if nobody gets at least 270 electoral votes in the election. But what happens if the Congress fails to elect a president AND a vice president as well? In fact, I have a few more specific questions, explained in the following.

Say, if there are three presidential candidates, and none gets at least 26 votes from the House, then the elected VP will serve as the acting president as the link says; but this assumes existence of such an elected vice president, doesn't it? What if some senators don't like both candidates and none of the two gets at least 51 votes from the Senate, then what will happen if the deadlock is still not resolved after January 20?

Also, is there a time limit on resolving the deadlock for the president? If not Theoretically, can the vice president serve as the acting president until the next election?

  • "the House of Representatives elects the president and vice president" Actually the Senate selects the vice-President in such a case. Commented Jan 27, 2022 at 0:12

1 Answer 1


The 12th Amendment specifies a process in case of failure.

And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President

which means that there shall be a president until the House can reach an agreement. It is therefore possible that the acting president will be president for 4 years if no resolution is possible. If there is no vice-presidential choice either, the Presidential Succession act provides that the Speaker of the House becomes president until the situation is straightened out, which again could be 4 years in the future.

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