More fodder for the tinfoil hat brigade — but even so this is almost certainly unconstitutional and ought to be overturned if signed into law:
Usually, 218 lawmakers – a majority of the 435 members of Congress – are required to conduct House business, such as passing laws or declaring war.
But under the new rule, a majority of living congressmen no longer will be needed to do business under “catastrophic circumstances.”
Instead, a majority of the congressmen able to show up at the House would be enough to conduct business, conceivably a dozen lawmakers or less.
The House speaker would announce the number after a report by the House Sergeant at Arms. Any lawmaker unable to make it to the chamber would effectively not be counted as a congressman.
The circumstances include “natural disaster, attack, contagion or similar calamity rendering Representatives incapable of attending the proceedings of the House.”
The House could be run by a small number of lawmakers for months, because House vacancies must be filled by special elections. Governors can make temporary appointments to the Senate.
Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.), one of few lawmakers active on the issue, argued the rule change contradicts the U.S. Constitution, which states that “a majority of each (House) shall constitute a quorum to do business”.