House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., gestures for Democrats to stop talking during a vote on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
When President Trump announced Wednesday he was considering using an obscure Constitutional provision to adjourn Congress so he could make recess appointments he felt necessary to help address the current COVID-19 crisis, I couldn’t help but wonder if Trump’s true aim with that political arrow was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s heart as she sat unsuspecting in her California kitchen, enjoying expensive ice cream far away from Washington DC.
Because while Trump’s frustration sounded like it was a result of Senate inaction on appointments (and it likely was to a degree), the subtext appeared (to me anyway) to be one of high annoyance that the Speaker — and even the entire Democrat caucus — was basically laying out of work (possibly with plans to continue the behavior past the President’s May 1st date) while the country suffered through a pandemic. In fact, Pelosi and Company have already held up an influx of new money intended to help small businesses weather the economic downturn, leading to this tweet from Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz:
“A good offer”?!? How about you fund the damn program Nancy and stop playing games with people’s livelihood. https://t.co/iLgzPtLLrr
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) April 16, 2020
It looks very much like Pelosi is doing just that: playing the obstructionist game while munching on bougie ice-cream and pushing to extend her time off from working for the American people that elected her. But Trump’s Wednesday announcement about using presidential powers given him in the Constitution — which he can certainly wield so long as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell helps him — will definitely have the Speaker rethinking some things.
Because it sets up a choice for Nancy: lay out of work except to stall passage of economic stimulus programs and accept recess appointments that will likely end up politically disastrous for her, or get back to work to stop that adjournment (and do all the other things legislators are expected to do to keep the country running under these extreme circumstances).
There’s not much doubt that Trump feels Nancy’s been derelict long enough. This was from Thursday morning:
Crazy “Nancy Pelosi, you are a weak person. You are a poor leader. You are the reason America hates career politicians, like yourself.” @seanhannity She is totally incompetent & controlled by the Radical Left, a weak and pathetic puppet. Come back to Washington and do your job!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2020
And there’s plenty of evidence Democrats mean to do everything they can to keep the country closed longer than Trump would like.
The political battle over opening the country has officially begun. Pelosi is a formidable politician. But using the presidential powers enumerated in the Constitution was nothing short of brilliant.
My money’s on Trump.