Trump Threatens to Adjourn Congress If Senate Won’t Convene to Vote on Long Delayed Trump Appointees
President Trump has issued quite the threat and we are wondering if he understands the true gravity of what he is saying. He probably thinks that this threat will allow him to stick a finger in the eye of Nancy Pelosi but nothing could be further from the truth. Mitch McConnell is the one who is actually going to be suffering his wrath.
Are you confused by this idea, too? You are not alone. We have yet to hear about a president adjourning Congress. It’s not something that comes up very often. Barack Obama was not even willing to make this sort of proposal when the Noel Canning decision came down about recess appointments.
Once you have seen the clip, things might make a bit more sense. In Trump’s mind, the Senate needs to be fulfilling their duties. If they are not willing to do so, he is going to make recess appointments. He is threatening to use his constitutional authority to close down the chambers until he gets his way.
Article II, Section 3 actually provides him with that power but it is only supposed to be used under extraordinary circumstances. Does this really count as an extraordinary occasion, though? President Trump can probably point to the global pandemic right now and we are sure that SCOTUS would allow him to slide on that point.
On the other hand, a closer look at Section 3 reveals that Mitch McConnell and the Senate would need to make their own moves first. If they do not move to adjourn Congress on their own initiative, Trump would not be able to get involved. It would become far more challenging for him to successfully force an adjournment.
He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.
The president is only able to take on a leadership role here if the Senate and the House both want to adjourn. If the Senate and the House cannot agree on the timing, Trump would be able to step in. In other words, he cannot steamroll the House and the Senate into doing whatever he wants them to do. This should have been obvious from the beginning.
President Trump: "The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees or it should formally adjourn so that I can make recess appointments… if the House will not agree to that adjournment I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers…" pic.twitter.com/jR7yd8xEnG
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 15, 2020
He is only able to settle timing disputes, so everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. Since there is no dispute at the moment, Trump is not going to be able to follow through on the threat. The Senate is even holding pro forma sessions on a daily basis and these sessions block Trump from being able to make his appointments.
The Senate is in session when they say they are and they will continue to retain the capacity to handle their own business. Mitch McConnell does not want to adjourn and until he does? President Trump will be left to fume. He has no power to force the Senate to adjourn, no matter what he may think. Pro forma sessions were great in Trump’s mind when they were preventing Barack Obama from getting what he wanted.
Now, they are merely a thorn in his side that is keeping him from his personal objectives. We do not wish to imagine a universe where the president is able to bend Senate to his will. If a president could force the Senate to adjourn whenever they wanted to, this would open the door for all sorts of calamities.
No president should be able to fill vacancies with their chosen appointments. That’s why we have the proper checks and balances in place. This keeps a branch of the government from being able to overpower the others. Trump may view himself as the sort of strongman who can make these types of decisions anyway but this type of authority would be dangerous.
He believes that he is entitled to total authority and has tried to claim dubious emergency powers in the past. The Senate could choose to hand him that authority by adjourning on their own but no one is expecting that to take place anytime soon. They will continue to hold the pro forma sessions, no matter what the president may have to say about it.
Even if you are someone who sides with Donald Trump on most things, you have to agree that this is not a great idea. Imagine how you would feel if Joe Biden decided to try out this idea. It would probably not sit very well with anyone at that point. Trump might be looking to blindside Mitch McConnell by floating the plan through the media but even if he was willing to go along with it, they would still need the Democrats to sign off. We highly doubt that they would be willing to help Trump gain a greater level of control.