It has been unclear as to how the Senate would be able to reconvene in order to convict/acquit Trump, or at least start his trial before 1 p.m. on January 20th, which is the date and time that will happen if nothing is done. Some have suggested that it would require a unanimous consent agreement during one of the pro forma sessions between now and the 20th. I thought this was the answer, but recently certain articles and other info has come out that suggests that it could be done with Mitch McConnell alone, or Mitch acting jointly with Chuck Schumer. Does Mitch have the authority to reconvene the Senate for regular buisness without unanimous consent?

1 Answer 1


The Majority and Minority Leader can, in times of emergency, reconvene the Senate by agreement (S.Res. 296, 2004). From a press conference by Democrat leader Chuck Schumer on Jan. 12, 2021, who was Minority Leader at the time:

There was legislation passed in 2004 that allows the Senate Minority Leader and Majority Leader to jointly reconvene the Senate in times of emergency.

This is a time of emergency.

McConnell claims he needs unanimous consent the agreement of all 100 Senators, but it's not so.

I've asked him to call the Senate back. All he needs is my agreement – I'm still Minority Leader – and his agreement, he's Majority Leader. We could come back ASAP and vote to convict Donald Trump and get him out of office now before any further damage is done.

The legislation that passed in 2004 puts a dagger through the heart of this idea that you need unanimous consent for every Senator to call back to the office.

I believe it was on the NYTimes The Daily podcast which claimed an "emergency" is not defined and is basically by agreement of the leaders. Furthermore, I believe they also claimed it was a post-9/11 act, but I don't have a source for that.

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    How would you even get unanimous consent of all Senators if you haven't already called them back to ask them? Call them all up on the phone one-by-one? Does that count as "unanimous consent" (which is a term with a particular meaning) if the Senate isn't even in session and thus able to vote?
    – Bobson
    Jan 15, 2021 at 0:38
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    On the last paragraph, yes there are multiple examples of where Senate rules are whatever the current majority says they are.
    – Damila
    Jan 15, 2021 at 1:07

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