Congress Still Unclear on What to Do if We Lost Congress in Terrorist Attack
Members of Congress are pushing for better plans after an attack
What would happen if there was a terrorist attack on the scale of 9-11 on the Capitol and over half of our lawmakers were incapacitated or killed? Congress constitutionally needs "quorum" -- a majority of living, capable lawmakers -- to pass any laws. So if working at half-capacity or less on Capitol Hill post-terrorist attack, how would we be able to pass bills? 10 years after 9-11, Congress still doesn't know.
The closest we have is a law passed in 2005 that allows special elections to happen if 100 more seats in the House of Representatives were lost due to "extraordinary circumstances," and the House changed rules so that its Speaker could redefine quorum to make it proportional to available congress members.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), says this is not enough, though. As he told the Washington Post:
“If you wanted to destroy the American government, you would destroy the House of Representatives and it would be crippled,” Lofgren said. “There ought to be a remedy for that so that our enemies couldn’t destroy us.”
The issue has not been a priority for Congress, though, and no legislative solutions are on the table.
Rep. Daniel E. Lungren (R-Calif.), who runs point on security issues as chairman of the House Administration Committee, said, “We have to constantly be looking at and reevaluating what the threats are and how do we respond in an effective way. I don’t think it’s ever a totally settled question.”