When a Congressional Recess Is Not a Recess
By Chad Pergram
Here is a Zen-like question:
How can Congress be on recess - when it's really not?
That's the state of affairs in Washington after the House of Representatives defeated what is usually a routine "adjournment resolution" for August on Thursday. The resolution would allow lawmakers to escape the Capitol and head to their districts to campaign and attend the political conventions.
The bottom line: Congress is technically NOT on August recess.
On Thursday, t
he Senate voted to adjourn by unanimous consent. But the House did not, voting 265-150. All 187 Democrats who voted cast nay ballots - coupled with noes from 78 Republicans to defeat the resolution.
Why is this important?
Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution says "Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days...."
So that eliminates the ability of the House and Senate to disappear for five weeks until September 10.
That means they have to meet - at least in a pro forma session - every three days from now through September.
Pro forma" is Latin meaning "as if." So, the House and Senate may meet "as if" all members are here. But don't expect any legislative business.
This doesn't entail much. The House and Senate simply gavel in and gavel out after the opening prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and some clerical business.But you can expect a lot of carping. It's possible Democrats may go to the House floor and try to get recognition to speak. It's possible they could hold press conferences saying "we're here, let's get to work." But in reality, few people will be here. All one needs to do is look at the jailbreak that unfolded once lawmakers took the final vote late Thursday afternoon. Scores of lawmakers poured down the House steps, racing to the airport.