President Donald Trump has threatened to force the United States Congress to adjourn if the Senate did not confirm his nominees for vacant public offices.
Trump issued the threat during his daily news briefing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the White House on Wednesday.
The president said he was frustrated that the lawmakers were not in Washington to confirm his nominees, including federal judges.
He said he would invoke his executive power to compel federal lawmakers to either return to Congress for urgent legislative business or adjourn formally.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the threat comes amid physical distancing orders across the country over the coronavirus pandemic.
Legislators in both chambers of Congress have been conducting pro forma sessions, and are not expected to return to the Capitol Hill until May 4.
Trump dismissed the pro forma sessions as “phony” and “a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis”.
He also accused them of “congressional obstruction”, arguing that confirming his nominees was not only critical but urgent at this time of the COVID-19 crisis.
The nominees, according to him, are needed to address challenges from the coronavirus crisis.
He said: “The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees or it should formally adjourn so I can make recess appointments.
“We have a tremendous number of people that have to come into government.
“And now more so than ever before because of the virus and the problem.
“The current practice of leaving town, while conducting phony pro forma sessions, is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis.”
According to Reuters, no U.S. president has ever used the authority, recognised by the Constitution, to adjourn both chambers of Congress if they cannot agree on a date to adjourn.
The news agency noted it was not clear if Congress’ current absence from Washington amounted to a failure to agree on an adjournment date. NAN