Trump Threatens to Adjourn Congress and Make Recess Appointments

Citing Michael Pack's renomination as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) and other nominations not acted on by the Senate, President Trump vowed to unilaterally adjourn both the House and Senate and make recess appointments.  

The Senate (and House) customarily hold pro-forma, gavel in, gavel out, sessions while it is not in session to prevent recess appointments by the President. 

But in his COVID-19 press conference, the President complained about Senate inaction on his nominees. 

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He picked Pack's renomination as example of one needlessly held up.

USAGM oversees Voice of America, which Trump attacked during the press conference. He said what was coming out of VOA was "disgusting." 

He complained that the Senate had exited until early May and how the pro-forma sessions in the interim had prevented him from using his recess appointment authority. 

He said if the Senate did not vote or formally adjourn, he would adjourn both the Senate and House, saying the pro forma sessions were "a phony dereliction of duty." He said maybe no one had ever done that before, but he was going to do it.  

Trump said some of the nominees could be dealing with the pandemic if they were installed and that the country could not afford that inaction during a crisis. 

"We are going to do it. We need people for this crisis and don't want to play any more political games," he said.  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.