Donald Trump is blaming government vacancies on his administration’s coronavirus response. On Wednesday, he said he would invoke a never-before-used presidential power to adjourn Congress, and automatically fill the positions without the approval of the Senate.
Trump’s desire to use his authority to push through nominees comes as Congress remains at a distance due to the coronavirus pandemic. The House and Senate have been convening for pro forma sessions to keep the chambers technically in session though the business is not being conducted. “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,” Trump said on Wednesday. “They have been warned.”
Their meetings make it impossible for a president to make recess appointments like the ones Trump is hoping for. But the maneuver is frustrating the impeached president who says it’s preventing him from adequately doing his job. “If they don’t act on getting these people approved — we need them anyway — but we especially need now because of the pandemic, we are going to do something … I prefer not to do, but I should do, and I will do if I have to,” Trump said about exercising the ill-advised presidential power.
According to The New York Times, McConnell informed Trump that his desire to use the authority to fill positions without approval was not going to happen.
“Leader McConnell had a conversation today with the president to discuss Senate Democrats’ unprecedented obstruction of the president’s well-qualified nominees and shared his continued frustration with the process,” a McConnell spokesman told The NYT. “[McConnell] 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 two chambers are set to adjourn on Jan. 3, 2021.
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