Donald Trump was blocked by the Senate from being able to make recess appointments, amid summer break of Washington lawmakers, The Hill reports.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), wrapping up for the entire Senate, enclosed nine “pro-forma” sessions — brief meetings that normally last roughly a minute. The move implies the Senate should be in session every three business days throughout the recess, and requires agreement of every senator.
The Senate left Washington Thursday evening with most lawmakers not expected to return to D.C. until after Labor Day. Senators were set to return to D.C. through next week, but staffers and senators estimated they would wrap up a few remaining agenda items and leave Washington early.
The Congress has previously used procedural block with former President Obama to keep him from filling a vacant Supreme Court seat during recess appointment. Speculations sparked after President Trump lashed out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions, with the suspicion that the former senator may be fired and replaced with successor while Congress was out of town.
Last month Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer warned that his party will use all “tools in our toolbox” in a move to block the possible recess appointment. “We’re ready to use every single one of them, any time, day or night. It’s so vital to the future of the republic,” Schumer said.
Trump also needs to name a new Department of Homeland Security secretary after John Kelly was named as his new chief of staff. The GOP-controlled Senate also held pro-forma sessions over the week-long July 4th recess. And Democrats held pro-forma sessions every three days in 2012 when Obama tried to appoint National Labor Relations Board members. The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that he overstepped his constitutional authority.
Asked if he was now glad the NLRB case had been litigated, Coons added on Thursday to laughter: “I think it’s important that there be restraints on the recess appointments.”