WASHINGTON — QUESTION:
Can the president stop Congress from taking a recess?
No, according to our experts. But under the Constitution, the president has the power to convene either or both the House of Representatives and the Senate, on "extraordinary occasions." This means, while President Trump can't stop Congress from going, he has the constitutional power to bring them back.
Ilya Somin- Professor of Law at George Mason University
Sai Prakash- James Monroe Distinguished Professor of Law and Miller Center Senior Fellow at the University of Virginia
A viewer asked the Verify team to look into whether the president could stop Congress from taking a recess.
Our Verify researchers spoke with two constitutional law experts, Ilya Somin, a professor of law at George Mason University and Sai Prakash, professor of law at the University of Virginia.
“In a word, no, he can’t stop them from taking a recess," Somin said. "However, Article II Section 3 of the Constitution does give the president the power on 'extraordinary occasions' to make Congress convene even if they don't want to. So in principle, they could take a recess, he could then claim that it's an extraordinary occasion, and then force them to come back, though, obviously, even if they do come back that doesn't mean they have to vote for whatever measures he wants them to vote on or even necessarily consider them.”
Sai Prakash agreed.
So we can Verify, no, the president can’t stop them from taking a recess, but technically the president has the constitutional power to bring them back.
Our experts say, what’s considered an extraordinary occasion isn’t really defined. Though in the past, Prakash said, when the president has convened Congress, they’ve always shown up.
“He can summon them back into session by citing this constitutional authority," Prakash said. "Now whether individual members of Congress comply or not is another question, but that’s never to my knowledge been tested. I don’t think the president’s ever tried to forcibly round up members of Congress.”
Prakash said it’s unclear from the Constitution what the repercussions would be if the president called Congress back and they didn’t show up.