General Question

occ's avatar

Why is Speaker of the House third in line for the Presidency, instead of the Senate Majority leader?

Asked by occ (4083points) November 8th, 2006
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6 Answers

maggiesmom1's avatar
I think it was set up that way because the thought was that the Speaker more represents the country more democratically & the country as a whole. Since the Representatives are elected every 2 years and Senators serve 6, they're more recently representative of the current political mood. Plus, every state only has 2 Senators & a larger number of Reps, so the Speaker is the head of the majority party in the House, so he represents the votes of 200-some people in the House which is more democratic.
bob's avatar
Hmm. And the Vice President is also President of the Senate (he casts the deciding vote in a 50-50 tie), so technically the second-in-line is also the head of the Senate, in addition to being VPOTUS.
IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

The order of succession was established by the Constitution, and it probably seemed a good idea at the time. The House is ostensibly closer to doing the will of the people, so I suspect the framers reasoned that the Speaker would be the better choice, as maggiesmom1 suggests.

Incidentally, the third in line for succession is the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, not the Majority Leader. The President Pro Tempore is a position established by the Constitution. Whoever holds that position presides over the Senate when the Vice President is not present. The Majority Leader has no constitutional powers that I’m aware of.

After the President Pro Tempore, the order of succession goes to the cabinet; I believe beginning with the Secretary of State. Alexander Haig once quipped that he was “in charge” after Reagan was shot and Quayle was not available. He was chided in the press for not being aware of the order of succession.

pburke8792's avatar

Dan Quayle was not Reagan’s V.P…....remember George H.W. Bush.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Yes, he was Bush 41’s VP, but he was still unavailable. Even when he was in office.

josie's avatar

The second in line, the VP, is already president of the Senate. So that covers the Senate’s claim on succession. That would leave the Speaker of the HOR as the logical third position.

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