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President Donald Trump slammed pro forma sessions by Congress as a “scam” and threatened to use his Constitutional authority to shut down both the House and Senate.
The president called out what he saw as congressional obstruction during his remarks at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House Wednesday, warning that he could force Congress to adjourn rather than continue the pro forma sessions being conducted.
Lawmakers are not due to return to the Capitol until May 4 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic but have been holding sessions every few days, effectively preventing the president from making any recess appointments. Trump railed against their “dereliction of duty” as he slammed Democrats for stalling on his judicial appointments and other nominations.
“The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees or it should formally adjourn so I can make recess appointments,” the president said from the Rose Garden.
“We have a tremendous number of people that have to come into government. And now more so than ever before because of the virus and the problem,” he continued.
“The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people can not afford during this crisis,” Trump added. “It is a scam, what they do. It’s a scam. And everybody knows it and it’s been that way for a long time.”
The president threatened to use the never-before implemented executive authority to dismiss both the Senate and the House, arguing that this moment of national crisis due to the coronavirus is even more reason his appointees need to be confirmed.
“Perhaps it’s never been done before, nobody’s even sure if it has,” Trump said. “But we’re going to do it. We need these people here. We need people for this crisis, and we don’t want to play any more political games.”
US presidents have been given the authority to adjourn Congress on “extraordinary occasions,” according to Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution:
“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.”
Critics immediately reacted to Trump’s remarks and urged him not to make good on his threat.
Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley, a witness during the House impeachment hearings, warned that the president’s authority “should not be used now.”
The President just said that he may unilaterally adjourn Congress. This seems to be a reference to Article II, Section 3, which gives a president in “extraordinary occasions” to convene or adjourn the Houses. This power has never been used and should not be used now . . .
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) April 15, 2020
Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Trump is using the threat as a way to “deflect from the fact that he has failed to be a leader.”
“It’s a distraction. He’s doing this as a way to distract us from the topic at hand,” says Sen. Kamala Harris on Pres. Trump’s threat to adjourn Congress in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic if it doesn’t approve his nominees. https://t.co/e6MYkqO2aB pic.twitter.com/Y05CvO63pa
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) April 16, 2020
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that the lawmaker spoke with Trump on Wednesday and is equally frustrated about “Senate Democrats’ unprecedented obstruction of the president’s well-qualified nominees and shared his continued frustration with the process.”
“The Leader pledged to find ways to confirm nominees considered mission-critical to the COVID-19 pandemic, but under Senate rules that will take consent from Leader Schumer,” the spokesman said.
The president had noted that the pending confirmations include Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas who was nominated as the director of national intelligence, two Federal Reserve Board members, the undersecretary of agriculture as well as the head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media.
But while the Senate has confirmed 193 judicial nominations, Trump complained that some picks have been waiting years as Democrats were “holding this up.”
“It’s a very unfair system,” Trump said. “There’s no time for anybody else and many of these people have been waiting for two and a half years. … We can’t get them approved by the Democrats. … It’s just a concerted effort to make life difficult.”
The president found plenty of support for his threat to take action and exercise his authority over the stall tactics.
I LOVE the President threatening to adjourn the congress to do recess appointments. Donald Trump is fearless. Between that threat – and cutting funds to the corrupt W.H.O. – liberals heads are spinning. They have NEVER had to deal with a Republican like this!
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) April 15, 2020
JUST IN: Trump may forcefully adjourn Congress so he can make recess appointments. Good for you, Mr. President!
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) April 15, 2020
President Trump just threatened to adjourn congress.
Do it and approve your appointments. It’s time. Enough of Democrat obstruction.
— Kambree (@KamVTV) April 15, 2020
It’s Glorious….Christmas Morning every freaking day! I have never been happier with my President.
— John Symons 👌🇺🇸 (@JohnSymons) April 15, 2020
Never ever in our history has a president been so hogtied by the liberal fascist politicians! Trump is just trying to do his job as president and get people appointed to offices that every other president has been allowed to do! It’s part of his job! Adjourn Congress! Do it!
— Trina Albright (@Trina4golf) April 16, 2020
Love our president. He’s the man. And, he doesn’t take no crap from anyone. Especially defunct politicians. Or radical foreign leaders.
— Mike Gipson (@MikeGipson1960) April 15, 2020
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