Republicans block Dem leader Clyburn from speaking on House floor

House Republicans on Friday morning blocked Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.) from speaking on the House floor during a brief pro forma session.

After the daily prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, Clyburn rose to speak, but presiding officer Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) said Clyburn was "out of order," and that no business was to be conducted during these pro forma sessions. Denham then gaveled the session closed.

Republicans in late December prevented House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) from speaking on the floor, refusing to recognize him. Hoyer was making a push to accept the Senate's two-month payroll tax holiday extension.

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Republicans are apparently going to continue the practice of holding pro forma sessions, which they have done to prevent the Obama administration from making recess appointments. However, Obama on Wednesday appointed Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and made three other appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.

The appointments were backed by an opinion from White House lawyers that Congress is actually in recess, despite the occasional pro forma sessions. But Republicans have warned that the appointments will likely face a legal challenge.