The Senate broke for a two-week recess starting last Friday. And this time, it’s on a real recess — not the “pro forma session” kind where a senator from Maryland or Virginia pops by occasionally to gavel the chamber in and out of session for a few seconds.
And while the cats are away...
But don’t look for the White House to take advantage of the break to sneak in any of those controversial recess appointments that got senators so riled up last year. This time, Senate leaders came to an agreement with the White House that there would be no recess appointments.
While they’ve struck the same kind of gentlemen’s arrangement a few times before -- one Senate aide described it as “not unusual” – more often than not the last two years have produced a string of open-and-shut sessions every few days to meet the senatorial definition of being in session. (A full adjournment for recesses requires the consent of both chambers, meaning House Speaker John A. Boehner could force the Senate into the pro forma sessions.)
In January of last year, President Obama made an end run around the Senate, naming three members of the National Labor Relations Board, as well as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Board, while the upper chamber was out of town. Predictably, senators, particularly Republicans, were steamed. A lawsuit ensued — the latest is that a federal appeals court invalidated the NLRB appointments, though the NLRB is appealing.
But at least for the next two weeks, senators can rest their heads back at home without worrying about what the White House is up to here in Washington — and the local senators won’t have to flip a coin to see who has to take gavel duty.