The Senate is beginning Tuesday its “pro forma” sessions — where a nearby Democratic senator comes in while the lawmakers are on vacation to gavel the Senate open for business and then gavel it closed a few seconds later.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) the godfather of the pro forma ploy, began them in 2007 to block President Bush from making recess appointments.
But this time won’t have quite the same aura. Rather than sitting in the chair in the Senate Chamber to do the honors, the presiders will sit on the dais of a decidedly less historic hearing room in the Hart Office Building. Seems there’s restoration work going on in the Senate chamber.
This would not be a “first,” the Senate Historical Office tells us. The ”earthquake session” last August saw the first official Senate session outside the Capitol since 1819, when reconstruction after the 1814 fire was completed.
There have been actual — not pro forma — sessions in other places in the Capitol during renovations, especially in the Old Senate Chamber, but that room, too, is now undergoing repairs.