What is the Senate Doing For Their Christmas Vacation?, Staying in Session is What! ~ News, Politics and Anything Else I Want to Say

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What is the Senate Doing For Their Christmas Vacation?, Staying in Session is What!

I read an article last night on CNN about the Senate's plans to technically not take a break for the holidays (you know, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years and others). They plan to hold "pro forma" sessions through mid-January. I say not technically taking a break because all but a handful of Senators will be gone. The Senate will be taking the minimum amount of action required to legally remain in session. I believe that involves someone banging a gavel every 3 days or so. Senators Jim Webb of Virginia, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Chuck Schumer of New York will all take a break from their holiday plans to keep the Senate in session.

The reasoning for this really shows how at odds President Bush is with Congress. The US Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 3 provides the ability for recess appointments. The reason for this was so federal governmental positions would not go unfilled while the Senate, who confirms those appointments, is not in town to vote on those positions. Back in the day, the Senate was often out of session for many months at a time so it made sense for the President to have this ability. Sadly, recess appointments have become nothing more than a political maneuver.

Now the Senate does not take breaks nearly as long and with the advent of the flying machine and commercial air travel, the Senate can get back in a hurry to vote on a Presidential appointment if necessary. Recess appointments are now used by the President to make appointments that he (or she) can not get approved by the Senate for any number of reasons.

The Senate did this same thing over Thanksgiving and is doing it now to prevent the appointment of Steven Bradbury to the head of the Office of Legal Counsel for the DOJ. I think we should expect our President to use this provision responsibly and for the reason it was intended. Otherwise, maybe we should just get rid of it all together. That would take a Constitutional amendment though. I guess we should just start expecting longer sessions of the Senate.

No comments: