Trump Threatens to Use Constitutional Authority to Adjourn Congress Over Stalled Nominations

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President Trump threatened Wednesday to use his “constitutional authority” to force both chambers of Congress to adjourn to allow him to appoint nominees that are vacant in his administration without confirmation by the Senate.

“The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees or it should formally adjourn so I can make recess appointments,” Trump said at his coronavirus briefing in 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.”

Both the House and the Senate are not expected to return until May 4, but the Upper Chamber has been conducting pro forma sessions, preventing the president from making recess appointments.

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“If the House will not agree to that adjournment, I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress,” Trump decried. “The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro-forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis. It is a scam that they do. It’s a scam and everybody knows it, and it’s been that way for a long time.”

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Out of 749 key positions requiring Senate confirmation, 82 have been announced and are awaiting confirmation. 

“There are currently 129 nominees stuck in the Senate because of partisan obstruction,” Trump said. “The positions include the director of national intelligence to members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the assistant secretary of Treasury for financial markets of the United States. And the undersecretary of agriculture responsible for administering food security programs.”

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution grants Trump the power to “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.”

Trump acknowledged that the effort, which no President has ever exercised would likely result in a legal challenge.

“[Congress] have been warned, and they’re being warned right now,” Trump stated. “If they don’t approve it, then we are going to go this route. And we will probably be challenged in court and we will see who wins.”