Donald Trump Threatens to Adjourn Both Chambers of Congress for Recess Appointments

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: Storm clouds fill the sky over the U.S. Capitol Building, June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. Potentially damaging storms are forecasted to hit parts of the east coast with potential for causing power wide spread outages. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Donald Trump warned Congress on Wednesday that he would consider using his authority to close both sessions of Congress, allowing him to make recess appointments.

“If the House will not agree to that adjournment, I will exercise my Constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress,” Trump said.

Currently, both the House and the Senate are using “pro forma” sessions to keep Congress open, even though the majority of members have left Washington, D.C.

“The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty the American people can’t afford during this crisis,” Trump said. “It is a scam, what they do. It is a scam, and everybody knows it.”

Trump expressed frustration that his nominee to lead Voice of America was stuck in committee.

Trump nominated documentary filmmaker Michael Pack to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which controls the Voice of America in 2018, but it has languished in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Article II, Section 3, Clause 3 of the Constitution authorizes the president to adjourn Congress if the House and Senate cannot agree on the time of adjournment.

Trump would likely need Sen. Mitch McConnell to officially adjourn the Senate to use that power.

President Obama tried to enact recess appointments during his presidency, arguing in court that Congress was technically closed, despite the pro forma sessions. The Supreme Court ruled against his administration in a rare 9-0 decision.

But Trump appeared ready to make a legal argument to force recess appointments during the coronavirus crisis.

“We’ll probably be challenged in court, and we’ll see who wins,” he said.


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