Reid to Keep Senate in Pro Forma During Recess

Posted March 13, 2008 at 3:25pm

Failing to reach a broad agreement with the White House on dozens of outstanding nominations, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has decided to keep the Senate in a series of pro forma sessions over the next two weeks to stop President Bush from installing any of his appointees while lawmakers are out of town.

Reid made the decision Thursday following a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, which didn’t produce a deal on how to move the stalled appointments. Reid and the White House have been negotiating for more than a week over how to confirm several executive branch nominations — some backed by the Majority Leader and others by the president — that have sat idle.

“We’ll be in pro forma,” said Reid spokesman Rodell Mollineau.

The pro forma sessions will be held every few days and typically last just a few minutes. Senate Democrats will take turns at the gavel for the sessions, which are largely ceremonial since no votes are cast.

Reid has kept the Senate working in pro forma sessions through most recesses this Congress after Bush installed several controversial appointees last April while Members were on break. Since then, the two sides have sought to negotiate a series of nominations deals, but with little success.

Mollineau said Thursday’s session between Reid and Bolten “was a positive meeting,” but that a far-reaching deal did not come together. Mollineau said the two sides “will continue to work on an agreement.”

— Erin P. Billings