Trump says he may forcefully adjourn Congress, use recess to appoint nominees


Noting that the Senate, which has the responsibility for confirming executive-branch appointments, had "left Washington until at least May 4", Trump said that "the Constitution provides a mechanism for the president to fill positions in such circumstances, the recess appointment, it's called". This would bypass the regular confirmation process.

Trump also complained that the Senate had yet to approve his nominee to head the body which has oversight over the Voice of America broadcasting network, which he accused of saying "disgusting things towards our country".

The Senate is not due back until May 4th, and has been meeting in "pro forma" sessions every three days, which has the effect of preventing the president from making "recess" appointments.

While delivering opening remarks at Wednesday's White House Coronavirus Task Force daily briefing, Trump claimed that 129 unconfirmed nominees were stuck in limbo because of "partisan obstruction" by Democrats despite the fact that Republicans-in particular Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican committee chairs-control the pace at which nominees are confirmed. 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.

As long as these short sessions are held, the president is legally barred from using his power to make "recess appointments" to fill positions without having to submit his nominees to Senate confirmation votes. "We have a tremendous number of people who have to come into government, and now more so than ever before because" of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, a type of novel coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19.

Trump's argument seemed to be that many of these vacancies needed to be filled to assist with the coronavirus response, including the director of national intelligence, two members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, an assistant secretary of the Treasury Department and an undersecretary of agriculture.

Article II, Section 3 of the US Constitution gives the president the power to both call Congress into a special session as well as to adjourn both houses of Congress if they can not agree on a time to do so.

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"It's a scam, what they do", Mr Trump said.

The centre says the same section further grants the President the authority to adjourn Congress whenever the chambers can not agree when to adjourn, but that "that is a power that no President has ever exercised".

Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the US Senate, giving them the power to approve nominees without any Democratic support. That way, he could appoint some nominees without the Senate's approval.

Mr. Trump said the Senate's habit of staying in session technically "where no one is even there, has prevented me from using the constitutional authority that we're given under the recess provisions".

"Perhaps it's never been done before, nobody's even sure if it has, but we're going to do it. We have many positions that are unstaffed because we can't get approval". "We need these people here". However, he said, "This power has never been used and should not be used now".

"We have to do it and we have to do whatever we have to do", he said.