Trump Threatens to Adjourn Congress Over ‘Phony’ Pro Forma Sessions During Coronavirus Crisis


President Trump threatened to adjourn Congress for not working during the COVID-19 Chinese coronavirus crisis. Trump called the ‘pro forma’ sessions by the House and Senate to prevent him from making recess appointments during extended breaks “phony” and a “dereliction of duty”, and warned he will “exercise my Constitutional authority to adjourn both Chambers of Congress”. The House and Senate are not scheduled to return to work until May 4 but hold ‘pro forma’ sessions every few days to keep Trump from making recess appointments.

Trump complained that he has numerous executive branch and judicial appointees awaiting Senate confirmation, stating that those vacancies need to be filled as the nation deals with the coronavirus crisis.

Longer version: “If the House will not agree.. I will exercise my Constitutional authority to adjourn both Chambers of Congress. 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.”

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The Constitution Center explained the presidential authority to adjourn Congress, noting it has never been used.

“Article II, Section 3 both grants and constrains presidential power. This Section invests the President with the discretion to convene Congress on “extraordinary occasions,” a power that has been used to call the chambers to consider nominations, war, and emergency legislation. It further grants the President the authority to adjourn Congress whenever the chambers cannot agree when to adjourn, a power that no President has ever exercised.”

Text of Article Two, Section Three:

“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.”





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