The Senate has blocked President Trump from exercising his authority to make recess appointments on Thursday as lawmakers left Washington for their August recess.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) managed to lock in nine “pro-forma” sessions – short meetings that usually last a minute – during their recess. The move, which requires the unanimous agreement of the Senate, means the legislative body will be in session every three business days through the recess.
Senators left Washington, D.C. on Thursday evening with most not expected to return until after Labor Day.
The Constitution grants the president the power to fill vacant positions, which would normally require Senate approval, while Congress is in recess. That clause specifies that the Senate must confirm the appointee by the end of the next session or the seat becomes vacant again.
Trump is not the first president to face the procedural roadblock from Congress. The Senate used the move to block President Obama from filling a vacant Supreme Court seat.
The Senate’s latest move comes amid a strained relationship between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and concerns that the president will fire the former senator and name his successor while Congress is out of Washington.
The move also blocks Trump from naming a new Department of Homeland Security director, a position now vacant after the president appointed General John Kelly to be his new chief of staff.
The Senate also held pro-forma sessions over the week-long Fourth of July recess.
In 2012, the Democratically controlled Senate held pro-forma sessions every three days when President Obama tried to appoint National Labor Relations Board members. The Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that the president overstepped his constitutional authority.