Senate Republicans are committed to blocking President Trump from bypassing the confirmation process and replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions with a recess appointment.
Indeed, as one Senate Republican explained to the Washington Examiner on Thursday, Senate Republicans made a collective decision in January to prevent Trump from making any recess appointment to his administration. That means the president is foreclosed from sidestepping Senate confirmation and replacing Sessions unilaterally during Congress' upcoming August recess.
"Recess appointments have never been an option for Trump," said the Republican senator.
Even if Republicans changed their mind, a near impossibility given their strong opposition to Trump's suggestion that he might fire Sessions, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., would demand pro-forma sessions as a part of any recess adjournment motion. Schumer's office confirmed this to the Washington Examiner Thursday morning.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., did the same thing when he was the minority leader under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and President Barack Obama.
Senate Republicans since January have blocked Trump from making recess appointments by holding pro-forma sessions every few days whenever the Senate is otherwise in recess. In doing so, the Senate is never technically in a period of recess that would enable the president, under the Constitution, to make an appointment to his administration that would otherwise require Senate confirmation.
In a pro-forma session, a senator quickly gavels the chamber in and out of session. It requires a senator to be present in Washington during the recess period, but junior members of the Republican conference early in the year agreed to perform this function for their colleagues, committing to dates for the balance of the year.
"Junior senators long ago picked two dates when they're on the hook to be in D.C. to gavel in and out," the GOP senator said.
Senate Republicans claim their ardent opposition to recess appointments stems from Obama's rogue recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. The Obama administration claimed the Senate was in recess when the Senate was making no such claim. The dispute went to court and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Senate.
Obama also used a legally questionable recess appointment to install Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but he was later confirmed by the Senate.