(EFE).- United States President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to close Congress to allow him to appoint officials whose nominations he claimed were being obstructed by Senate Democrats.

The power has never been used before.

“I will exercise my constitutional authority to adjourn both chambers of Congress,” Trump said at a White House press briefing.

“I’d rather not use that power. We’ll probably be challenged in court and we’ll see who wins.”

The president said that there are 129 positions awaiting Senate approval to take office, some vital to aiding the COVID-19 fight, such as the director of national intelligence and a senior agriculture department position in charge of food programs.

“The current practice of leaving (Washington) while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people can not afford during this crisis,” Trump said. “It is a scam, what they do. It’s a scam. And everybody knows it and it’s been that way for a long time.”

Lawmakers in both chambers are not expected to meet until May 4, but both the House and Senate have been conducting pro forma sessions and have passed legislation related to the pandemic. The sessions prevent the president from making what is known as recess appointments.

“The Senate should either fulfill its duty and vote on my nominees or it should formally adjourn so I can make recess appointments,” Trump said.

Trump blamed the Democratic opposition for the paralysis and appeared to assume that the Republican-controlled Senate will agree to suspend its activities to give him that power.

Jonathan Turley, a constitutional law professor who last year testified against Trump’s impeachment, warned the president against the move.

“The President just said that he may unilaterally adjourn Congress… This power has never been used and should not be used now,” Turley wrote on Twitter.

“The power to adjourn only applies ‘in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment’… I have long been a critic of such recess appointments,” he said.

“A pandemic should not be an invitation for pandemonium.”

In the city of Washington, the seat of both the Congress and the White House, a stay-at-home order issued by Mayor Muriel Bowser is in place until May 15. EFE

© 2020 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc.


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