Per The Hill, during a press briefing on Wednesday, Trump threatened to use executive power to adjourn both the Democratic-controlled House and the GOP-controlled Senate. Suggesting that Congress is abdicating its duties, the commander-in-chief complained that he is unable to make appointments, which he claims is more necessary than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees or it should formally adjourn so I can make recess appointments. 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 said.
Trump has been unable to make recess appointments because both chambers are on recess until May 4. For now, both the House and the Senate have been conducting so-called pro forma sessions. However, the president argued that he can use his constitutional authority to adjourn Congress.
“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,” Trump said, arguing that appointments are necessary, and noting that no president has ever done what he wants to do.
“Perhaps it’s never been done before, nobody’s even sure if it has. But we’re going to do it. We need these people here.”
As the publication notes, Article II, Section 3 of the United States Constitution grants Trump the power to adjourn both chambers in “extraordinary occasions,” but the legal reality of the situation is fairly complex. In order for him to be able to suspend both chambers, the Senate would have to adjourn. However, the Democrats in the upper chamber would likely be able to block the move.
According to Trump, vacancies need to be filled so that the federal government can handle the response to the coronavirus pandemic. Per reports, 150 of 749 crucial positions are vacant because the president has mostly relied on officials in acting capacities, instead of nominating full-time appointees.
As The Hill notes, Trump has taken advantage of the coronavirus crisis to wage political battles against Congress. Notably, he blasted Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and warned Democrats in both chambers against launching “partisan” probes during the pandemic.
Furthermore, the president has been seen as using the crisis to advance his foreign policy agenda. On Tuesday, Trump ordered his administration to temporarily halt funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing the agency of refusing to hold China accountable.