U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski may not have the best relationship with President Donald Trump after she delivered one of the key votes that dashed the Senate’s hopes for an Obamacare repeal before the August recess, but she says she didn’t seek to block recess appointments.
As the Senate prepared to take its August break, Murkowski delivered the wrap up on Thursday that included locking in nine pro forma sessions during the month-long recess. In Alaska legislative terms these are minutes-long technical sessions needed to keep the Senate in session.
In effect they also block Trump from making recess appointments.
The news spawned headlines like Mashable’s “Trump versus Murkowski is not going well for the president.” It fits in well with the ongoing narrative of a feud between Alaska’s senior senator and the president over the Obamacare repeal. Last week Trump singled out Murkowski and may, or may not have, had Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke threaten Alaska.
The only problem, according to Murkowski (as well as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer), is the pro forma sessions are a function of Democrats’ refusal to negotiate an actual adjournment from session.
“Fake news,” says Murkowski in a statement posted to Twitter. “I did not seek the pro forma sessions; Senate Democrats would not agree to adjourn without them.”
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) August 4, 2017
This is a fact that other outlets picked up on. The Democrats’ concern, as explained by Schumer, is Trump could use the recess appointment to fire and replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions without congressional oversight.