The Presidency 25

Free course on the presidency. One paragraph per day.

26.          The framers granted the President the power to convene or adjourn one or both houses of Congress in extraordinary situations.  The conditions for an extraordinary adjournment require a formal disagreement between the House and Senate on when to adjourn – although this has never happened.[1]  Article 2, Section 3 says the President

“…may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper”

Congress was often not in between sessions for several months each year. This absence sometimes confounded presidents who needed Senate confirmation for Cabinet nominations, Senate confirmation for treaties, or needed the House and Senate for issues of war, crises, and urgent legislative requirements.[2] The problem was largely solved in 1933 when the twentieth amendment established January 3 as the start and end date for Congress – with January 20 as the start of each presidential term.  Since then, extraordinary sessions have been called only four times.

[1] On April 15, 2020, the President proposed to use Article 2, Section to adjourn Congress in order to make recess appointments.  The President did not follow through.

[2] Extraordinary sessions of Congress: A brief history history/resources/pdf/ExtraSessions.pdf

Image: William McKinley, photographer unknown.

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