Senate Blocks Trump’s Ability To Make Recess Appointments This Month

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listens during a news conference after the Senate confirmed President Donald Trump's controversial education secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. DeVos was approved by the narrowest of margins, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie in a historic vote. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Before the Senate left for its August recess on Thursday, lawmakers agreed to a series of pro forma sessions that ensures the Senate never officially goes on recess. The move effectively blocks President Donald Trump from making recess appointments while senators are away.

When Trump’s public humiliation campaign against Attorney General Jeff Sessions was at its peak, Democrats pledged to block any possibility of Trump naming a new attorney general while they’re away for recess.

“Many Americans must be wondering if the President is trying to pry open the office of attorney general to appoint someone during the August recess who will fire special counsel [Robert] Mueller and shut down the Russian investigation,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a late July floor speech. “First let me state for the record now, before this scheme gains wings, Democrats will never go along with the recess appointment if that situation arises. We have some tools in our toolbox to stymie such action. We’re ready to use every single one of them.”

As Trump has stopped publicly fuming about Sessions, concern about him appointing a new attorney general who could fire special counsel Robert Mueller has died down a bit. However, Trump now has an open slot at the head of the Department of Homeland Security after he named retired Gen. John Kelly his new chief of staff.

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