Quorum vs. Unanimous Consent
Here’s an obscure question that I’m wondering about. The Constitution requires each House of Congress to have a majority for a quorum. Now picture the following scene:
Senator X stands up in an empty chamber immediately after the Senate is gaveled into session. She says to the Chair “I request unanimous consent that” something be done. The Chair responds, “Without objection, so ordered.” Action taken.
In that circumstance, isn’t the quorum rule being ignored? Only two senators are there. Is a quorum presumed unless someone objects and asks for a quorum call? If so, that’s stretching the Constitution pretty far. I suppose each chamber gets to decide what counts toward a quorum, as the House famously decided under Speaker “Czar” Reed that present members who refused to answer a quorum call should be counted, but should that extend to absent members? Put another way, is the quorum rule an affirmative defense that some Senator must raise lest it be waived?
UPDATE: A sharp-eyed reader points out that Tom Goldstein talked about this on Friday and said that a quorum is presumed. (Thanks for telling me.) The next question, then, is why is that constitutional?