While we were busy drinking eggnog and eating cookies and sexually assaulting snowflakes under the mistletoe, time has been ticking off. Here are the significant dates along the process.
December 28th was the deadline for the pony express to get the certified copies of each state’s electoral vote to Washington DC. There is no issue left with that
January 3rd, the newly elected Congress meets to begin the new legislative sessiion. The first order of business is to elect leaders in the House and Senate. The parties already chose their leaders in November, although a few newly elected members were not in office yet. This has the opportunity for surprise only if 2 Republican Senators vote for Chuck Schumer or switch parties. There is always the possibility of Democratic Party theatrics like a sit in or Barack Obama declaring martial law.
Assuming nothing unexpected happens, Paul Ryan and Nancy Pelosi will be elected in the House and Mitch McConnel and Chuck Schumer in the Senate.
Once the leadership is in place, the chairmen of the standing committees will be elected. That has also been penciled in and the election is a formality. Each party submits their leaders and a single vote is held. This is critical as a functioning Congress is necessary for what comes next. Paul Ryan will select the committee chairmen of the select committees.
January 6th the Congress will convene in joint session. The purpose is to hear Joe Biden (Outgoing Vice President) announce the totals of the 51 electoral results. Donald Trump will have 304 votes, more than the required 270. Democrats might challenge the ballots as theatrics, but it won’t change the results. Similarly Mike Pence will be announced as the Vice President elect.
This is an important distinction. – once Donald Trump and Mike Pence are the President and Vice President elect, the rules of succession change. The winners will be notified. If Donald Trump refuses to be President, dies, or is found to be ineligible to be President, Mike Pence becomes President Elect. If both men become unable to serve, the line of succession kicks in. Paul Ryan would become President. If he also was unable to serve, the President Pro temopre of the Senate (Orrin Hatch) is next. If in some mass casualty event took out all of the leaders, we have a problem – next in line is the Secretary of State Rex Tillorson, who is not yet confirmed by the Senate.
Assuming nothing unexpected happens, at noon on January 20th, President Obama and Joe Biden are no longer in office. In the worst case scenario, an acting president could be chosen, but if we get there, there is no roadmap to follow. Joe Biden in theory is eligible, but Barack Obama is not.
At noon, President Elect Donald J Trump will take the oath of office administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Donald Trump is officially the 45th President of the United States and the peaceful transition of the government is complete and the next ruler is in place and the dictatorship begins.