The House adjourned and left town Friday for the weeklong Presidents Day recess, as Democrats strenuously objected to the move.
Rather than come back for several pro forma sessions designed to prevent recess appointments, the chamber will stay closed the entire time, preventing Democratic protests about the need for the House to work on pending fiscal battles. The move to officially adjourn comes in the wake of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decision that threw the constitutionality of recess appointments into question.
Democrats accused the majority party of leaving when there is important work on the table, including dealing with the sequester deadline of March 1 and passing the Violence Against Women Act.
“Americans cannot afford for House Republicans to head out of town when jobs and economic growth hang in the balance,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed to allow the adjournment resolution to pass by unanimous consent, adding bipartisan cover to an action that is frequently the target of political attacks from the minority party.
Particularly offensive to Democrats was a name unofficially bestowed on the adjournment resolution in an internal GOP email: the “Rules Resolution Prohibiting Democrat Grandstanding on the House Floor.”
That is not the official title of the bill, but rather an attempt at humor that one GOP leadership aide attributed to “T.G.I.F.,” an acronym that stands for “Thank God it’s Friday.”
“It’s unbelievable to me that when Democrats tried to stay in Washington next week to work to stop the sequester instead of going home for a district work period, Republicans called it ‘grandstanding.’ The only thing that this adjournment resolution prevented is us staying at work to fix the job-killing sequester before it throws us into another recession,” said House Rules ranking member Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.