Skip to comments.Senate meets for 9 seconds to block Bush appointment
Posted on 12/26/2007 8:11:08 PM PST by TRY ONE
Dec. 26, 2007, 4:25PM Senate meets for 9 seconds to block Bush appointment
By LAURIE KELLMAN Associated Press
TOOLS Email Get section feed Print Subscribe NOW Comments (40) Recommend WASHINGTON The House was quiet as a mouse the day after Christmas. But across the Capitol, the Senate was operating in an unusually efficient manner in its ongoing power struggle with President Bush.
A nine-second session gaveled in and out by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., prevented Bush from appointing as an assistant attorney general a nominee roundly rejected by majority Democrats. Without the pro forma session, the Senate would be technically adjourned, allowing the president to install officials without Senate confirmation.
The business of blocking Bush's recess appointments was serious. It represents an institutional standoff between Congress and the president that could repeat itself during Congress' vacations for the remainder of Bush's presidency.
In such situations, pro forma sessions also could give Bush some political cover on popular legislation he doesn't want to sign. When Congress is holding pro forma sessions and is not formally adjourned, a bill sent to a president automatically becomes law 10 days after he receives it excluding Sundays unless he vetoes it.
That could be the fate of two bills Congress passed last week. One growing out of the Virginia Tech massacre makes it harder for people with mental illness records to buy guns. The other makes it easier for journalists and others to obtain government documents through the Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA bill, for example, would become law on New Year's Eve if not vetoed before then, according to Senate Judiciary Committee officials.
In practice, today's pro forma process was almost comical.
"Good morning!" Webb, sporting a respectful tie and jacket, called to the floor staff assembled just for the occasion in an otherwise sleepy and chilly Capitol. One clerk congratulated Webb on being 30 seconds early, thrice the amount of time it would take to complete the Senate's work for the day.
Climbing to the president's chair, Webb took the gavel and banged it.
"The Senate will come to order," he intoned, reading from a two-line script to a floor empty of other senators but witnessed from the gallery by one reporter and about a half dozen staffers. "Under the previous order, the Senate stands in recess until Friday, December 28th, 2007 at 10 a.m."
His work done, Webb left. The floor staff reported to those in the gallery overhead that the session had lasted nine seconds.
"I didn't appoint myself ambassador to a tropical nation," Webb, a former Navy secretary, novelist and TV documentary maker, quipped afterward.
Before Congress left last week, Democrats scheduled 11 pro forma sessions to fill the void until the Senate returns to regular session on Jan. 22. The purpose was to stop Bush from using the constitutional power presidents hold under the Constitution to bypass Senate confirmation and unilaterally install his nominees in office when Congress is adjourned.
Democrats wanted to block one such recess appointment in particular: Steven Bradbury, acting chief of the Justice Department's Office of Legislative Counsel. Bush nominated Bradbury for the job and asked the Senate to remove the "acting" in his title.
Democrats would have none of it, complaining Bradbury had signed two secret memos in 2005 saying it was OK for the CIA to use harsh interrogation techniques some call it torture on terrorism detainees.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Bush refused to rule out appointing Bradbury to the job if the Senate formally adjourned. So, Reid decided to keep the Senate in session with pro forma meetings every two or three days.
This Senate has a bunch of Firsts:
1) They filibuster judicial appointments 2) They prevent recess appointments
How’s that approval rating holding up?
Nothing they do can surprise me anymore.
Someone on the GOP side needs to get smart enough to block Webb’s car.
I for one approve. The less time these rascals are in session the less damage they cause, generally speaking.
It’s a shame we’re not paying them on a piecework basis, however. They’d all starve.
Does anyone realize how stupid this is and looks? Webb is an idiot...in 2008 the donkeys are screwed [and they did it to themselves].
What these RATS just don’t get it that payback could easily happen. They cannot control the Senate forever. What we have to concentrate on is making sure we get a Republican President elected next term as well at getting the Senate back.
they managed to actually DO something.....we’ll add this to the short list of accomplishments....
I want to see that video of “We killed the Patriot Act” over and over next year in all GOP political ads.......
I’m sure they’ll offer Virginia about $1 billion in pork for Webb to ‘oversleep’.
Well, I suppose it's an improvement over his thoughts of banging prepubescent children. Oh, it's just a novel?
If it was us, we’d be applauding our smarts ...
3. they investigate the entire Bush Administration and hold hearings that go nowhere.
They’re being out-mamuverued constantly by the GOP, lol.
A session of one...
So what is the appropriate answer to that game?
Our side would have to bother to show up...
Looks like Webb has finally found a purpose for being in the Senate.
Other than being able to lose track of his pistol with impunity.
can the Repubs get 4 to be there for the next session
have them call the role etc... ?
Aeen’t there even *5* GOP Senators who aren’ pieces of chickenshit, to all show up tommorrow, to force a quorum call, and force the Dem to adjourn Congress when a quorum cannot be formed?
The Repub Senators are every bit as much a bunch of cowardly chickenshits as the sniveling whiner Dims and Gimmies.
Isn’t there anything the republicans can do? Like showing up and forcing a vote of some kind? Maybe motion to adjourn?
The Presidency is what he has always had his eye on since he decided to run for a senate seat.
All 49 Repubs would have to show up to the Senate just as Webb was hammering the gavel, but before he finished his 9 second speech.
As they walked in, VP Cheney would have to take the gavel from Webb to act as President of the Senate (his official title whenever he is in the Senate Chambers).
49 Repubs plus Webb is 50 Senators, the Constitutional requirement for a quorom.
With VP Cheney holding the gavel, the GOP Senate (it would be a GOP senate at that point) could pass whatever bill they desired, approve whatever judge (include a SCOTUS justice) they desired, etc.
So that's why Webb is trying to keep his Senate session brief (9 seconds!). This little trick of the Dems to keep the Senate in "session" while the rest are off on holiday vacations could backfire on them if the GOP unified and played sneaky hardball.
However, the last senator elected to the WH was Kennedy and he didn't really win, his daddy bought it for him. These donkeys that think their way to the WH is through their senate need to look closer at history. Webb is obviously kissing his bosses A, and you can bet Virginians wish they'd have never elected that bassturd. He's such a whiny baby...him and his face lift.
I must strongly disagree. The "rascals" are not supposed to be in session. These shenanigans mean their are perpetually in session purposely to cause damage - in this case to prevent the President from his Constitutional right to perform recess appointments.
Since VP Cheney is the President of the Senate, why isn’t he the one handling the gavel? Does he need to be invited? This article leaves much to be desired about explaining anything.
Thanks for the rundown on what would be necessary to counter the Dem perpetual session.
My question is whether the funds paying for the travel of each Senator is being covered by the taxpayer at an extra cost. Obviously they are covered to travel to their respective states during a recess but absent an emergency are they allowed to essentially "charge" their travel costs to and from DC to the taxpayer just to gavel in a session for political obstruction of their choice? Or is the cost supposed to covered by the individual Senator from their own salary or pocket?
If the GOP unified and played sneaky hardball they would lose their reputation as castrated, spineless politicians, a name they must really love.
how about somebody asking for a quorum call?
why didn’t our Pub congress block Clinton?....the stupid party is just that....or maybe they are just more devious in their deceit to the voters ....then again, maybe just b*all-less...
I agree. It’s an abuse of power by the Senate.
chickensheets is right...you called it...
One Republican Senator should show up and ask for a quorum call.
I'd do one of two things:
1. Put them on a reverse commission ... they get paid only out of the money they DON'T spend
2. have their salaries and office budget come out of the treasury last if and only if there was actual money in the treasury.
This is unconstitutional, not to mention just another use of weasel words. The GOP should have been in that session in full force just to highlight the whole farce. Course the GOP ain't that brave.
Leave it to a child pornographer like Webb.
A quorum of Pubbies need to show up, refuse to adjourn, then vote to recess.
Who is more of a budding creep in the Congress than Webb?
Wimp-bloc types that voted for him should be ashamed.
Unfortunately, Webb could object to any action. In order to overcome the objection, they would have to file a cloture motion. That requires time to pass, and still would fail because they would need 60 votes.
The only thing the republicans could do would be to take over the senate and talk.
Of course, if Webb disappeared for a second, they could do something, but Webb certainly is prepared to stand their long enough for the Maryland senators to come and relieve him, which would be long enough to fly in some other senators.
Why would they do that? Webb carries a *gun* into the Senate building.
Oh, I'm sorry. I mean Webb's staff gets to carry Webb's gun into the Senate building.
Wonder how that's working out for Webb's fall guy?
Pardon my ignorance, but are you saying Webb could object to a quorum call? I thought that any senator could call for a quorum any time they wanted. And that if a quorum cannot be established, that the Senate must be adjourned by pro forma procedure.
Senate meets for 9 seconds to block Bush appointment...
No cajones republicans.....have more than 9 meet for a special session and call for a quarom..if the lib/dems refuse....after a roll call.....seek a ruling by the SCOTUS!!!
Smart move by the DEMs.
See "4. ORDER OF PROCEDURE" from December 19, 2007, at Page S16069 of the Congressional Record.
Notice Senator Reid's "I ask unanimous consent," followed by a schedule for pro forma sessions, recesses and adjournment sine die, and concluding with the chair's statement, "Without objection, it is so ordered."
In general, the notion that a bare quorum of senators (e.g., all of the GOP, plus VP Cheney), can show up and get legislative advantage "on surprise" is ludicrous. So is the notion that a trap can be sprung when all the potential objectors happen to be absent from the floor. The Senate runs on unanimous consent - consent sometimes given grudgingly, but given, just the same. Takebacks of consent require unanimous takeback.
The situation with pending nominations parallels the Democrats particular objections with recess appointments. See "2. NOMINATIONS STATUS QUO," also from December 19, but at Page S16061 of the Congressional Record.
Usually, all nominations not acted on are returned to the president when the Senate adjourns sine die (See Senate Rule XXXI), but in this case, all nominations are kept status quo, except Bradbury and six nominees that had been pending before the Armed Services Committee.
Finally, the process of entering a series of pro forma sessions in order to prevent a period of longer than 3 days without a Senate meeting was also done over the November/Thanksgiving recess, as well. AMERICAblog.com: Reid shut downs Bush recess appointments during Thanksgiving. To the best of my knowledge, it is otherwise without precedent.
Were is the presiding officer when this is going on ?
‘”I didn’t appoint myself ambassador to a tropical nation,” Webb, a former Navy secretary, novelist and TV documentary maker, quipped afterward. ‘
We’re more worried about your weird fixation on fathers putting their kids penis in their mouths, you nutcase.
The president of the senate should bother to show up.!!!!
No, he could not block a quorum call. But adjournment for a quorum call would not itself invoke a recess. It would just force the democrats to get 50 people to show up for the next session. A “recess” is like 10 days, this is why they are doing this every few days, so they can recover if the republicans try anything.
Sure, I’d like to see them do it anyway, JUST TO MAKE the democrats show up once every 10 days. But the democrats WOULD show up if they had to, so it would just be a gesture.
BTW, I wouldn’t count on all of the republican senators supporting this action anyway — senators in general are not enamored with recess appointments, seeing it as a usurpation of their authority. So a good number of republican senators would oppose taking extraordinary steps just to provide an opportunity for the president to make a recess appointment.
If Bush wanted to make a big deal out of it, he could simply vacate the offices that aren’t appointed, and refuse to spend money or perform the work assigned to those offices, until the senate acted on his appointment. By making “acting” personnel, he takes off the pressure.
I guess the democrats could have done this to block a recess judicial appointment as well, but since you can’t do “acting” judges, the effects would be more severe.
This illustrates the level of discord between the Senate Republicans and the Bush WH. By my estimation, perhaps half of the Pubbies in the Senate (if that) are willing to support Dubya on strategy/legislation, save for Iraq and tax cuts.
How many really supported Dubya's version of "comprehensive immigration reform"?
Now that I think about it, Dubya's "grand farewell" at next year's convention will hardly rival the sendoff the Gipper received.
Yeah...but I was thinking about that Quorum call.
If *all* the rest of the GOPers were waiting in the halls when the call went out..and they all came in, The acting Dem even though he would vote nay...numerically, would make the quorum complete. >Bo)
Yes, if they all showed up, they could have a quorum, but they wouldn’t be able to conduct any business because you can only conduct senate business by unanimous consent or through forced action by cloture, neither of which would be possible.
The only thing they could do is force adjourment, but I’m not even sure that would matter, because it may be that the senate was still technically in session before the adjournment is closed. I don’t know if you can object to bringing the senate INTO session based on the absense of a quorum.
That is an interesting question though, and I think I’m going to hit up my parlamentarian about that.