6

Recently the Senate minority party maintained pro-forma sessions which effectively prevented recess appointments by the President. These were decided as legal by the Supreme Court in NLRB v. Canning.

It is important to note that the minority were able to do this because the House refused to agree to a recess of Congress thus forcing the Senate to remain in session. This aspect has already been asked and answered in another Question here.

This question however is different: What I am asking is can the minority party use the same strategy to prevent recess appointments even if the House agrees to a recess of Congress? I know that when the Senate adjourns it represents a safe period of time where members can rest, knowing that no business can be conducted but I am unclear if a recess can be prevented by the minority.

4

If you look at the Senate proceedings, you can see that at times the senate calls for adjournment by unanimous consent. Under this circumstance, then even one person can object and prevent the adjournment.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Adjournment
By unanimous consent, on the request of Mr. McConnell, at 6:41 p.m., the Senate adjourned, under its order of today, until 3 p.m. on Monday, January 23, 2017.

On the other hand, there are cases in which a motion to adjourn is made and seconded. In that case, if the majority votes Aye, the the Senate stands adjourned. As an example here is a quote from the Senate trial of Andrew Johnson.

Mr. HOWARD. Let the vote on adjournment be announced . . . .

The CHIEF JUSTICE. Upon the question of adjournment without day the yeas are 34 and the nays are 16. So the Senate sitting as a court of impeachment for the trial of Andrew Johnson upon articles of impeachment presented by the House of Representatives stands adjourned without day.

Additionally, there is H.Con.Res.92 - Providing for a conditional adjournment of the House of Representatives and a conditional recess or adjournment of the Senate. which actually provided for the adjournment. This would mean that when the adjournment was accepted by the majority, the minority (in that session) could not object.

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That when the House adjourns on any legislative day from Thursday, November 5, 2015, through Thursday, November 12, 2015, on a motion offered pursuant to this concurrent resolution by its Majority Leader or his designee, it stand adjourned until 2:00 p.m. on Monday, November 16, 2015, or until the time of any reassembly pursuant to section 2 of this concurrent resolution, whichever occurs first; and that when the Senate recesses or adjourns on any day from Tuesday, November 10, 2015, through Friday, November 13, 2015, on a motion offered pursuant to this concurrent resolution by its Majority Leader or his designee, it stand recessed or adjourned until noon on Monday, November 16, 2015, or such other time on that day as may be specified by its Majority Leader or his designee in the motion to recess or adjourn, or until the time of any reassembly pursuant to section 3 of this concurrent resolution, whichever occurs first.

  • 2
    So it sounds like the minority party (or one obstructionist individual) can force everyone to show up to vote to adjourn, but can't stop it. The majority party had better hope its members didn't start leaving for home early... – Bobson Feb 22 '17 at 18:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.