Trump Made Another Empty Threat. Something About Adjourning Congress, but Here’s Why He Can’t Do That Either

Illustration for article titled Trump Made Another Empty Threat. Something About Adjourning Congress, but Here’s Why He Can’t Do That Either
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Trump does this thing when he’s losing, and the move isn’t sophisticated or even nuanced. Trump literally finds something else to complain about and it doesn’t even have to be a legitimate grievance; it just has to be something else. Anything else.


So after getting laughed at and smacked around by America’s governors when Trump claimed he was the Alpha and the Omega of deciding when the country would reopen and having the Constitution thrown in his face, Trump came back with some insanely wild shit that other presidents were like, “Fuck is wrong with Slim?”

On Wednesday, President Trump threatened to use a Constitutional provision—which has never been used by any president ever—that would allow him to adjourn Congress and push through nominees that would normally require Senate approval.

“As the entire US government works to combat the global pandemic, it is absolutely essential that key positions at relevant federal agencies are fully staffed, and we’re not allowing that to take place through our Congress,” Trump told reporters during his campaign rally dressed up to look like a press briefing. “They’re just not giving it to us. We have many positions that are unstaffed because we can’t get approval,” CNN reports.

Trump continued: “The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis,” Trump told reporters, the Washington Post reports.

Which was surprising because there were a lot of big words in that sentence. I’m actually shocked that he made it through “pro forma” and “dereliction” without having to sound it out.


That aside, Trump is right, sort of.

According to Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution says that the president “may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper.”


The problem, as with most things involving Trump is that he neglected a few very important components of what’s actually happening. For one, Sen. Majority Leader and noted presidential ass barnacle, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), isn’t even on board with this shit and to do so would require all 100 senators to vote on the Senate floor during a pandemic, which ain’t no one doing. And, let’s just say that the entire Senate did come back and vote and it passed, the House of Representatives, currently 429 members, would also have to come back and vote, and that shit ain’t happening as long as “Big Toasty Nancy Pelosi” is still running the show.

Secondly, Trump claims that 129 nominees are “stuck in the Senate because of partisan obstruction” and that’s just flat out bullshit. Trump has several vacancies in key positions because he’s neglected to fill them and those he has filled haven’t gone through the confirmation process in the Republican-led Senate. Trump even mentioned Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), the nominee for director of national intelligence, as someone he wants to push through quickly but he needs to rap to his Mitch-ass-nigga McConnell about that.


I’m not going to drag this out as Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) summed it all up succinctly in a tweet, writing: “Without one chamber participating in this improper scheme, this action would be unconstitutional. The president has no general, unilateral power to adjourn Congress. He may do so only in the limited ‘Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment,’ ” The Post reports.

So maybe the president should go back to the Constitution and find another plan to give him sole authority because this ain’t it, chief executive.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.


As I read the language, the right to adjourn is wedded to the right to call a special session. In other words, he does not have the right to adjourn a normal session - only the right to adjourn a special session that the President has called (and then only if the House and Senate disagree on when to adjourn). He is trying to use it, however, to adjourn the House and Senate’s regular session. If that were actually what the language means, he could adjourn the House and Senate for years because it is to be adjourned (in the event of disagreement between the House and Senate) to a time the President thinks proper. Clearly that was not the intent, so the right to adjourn is restricted to the right to call a special session in an emergency.

I do not for one second believe that McConnell would not willingly screw the entire Senate by conniving with Trump to shut down the Senate so Trump could have all of his nominees automatically bypass confirmation (and any filibusters).