The moment of silence was preceded by a prayer for those affected by the huge storm, from the Rev. Gene Hemrick of the Washington Theological Union.

"We pray that, as in the past we have responded generously to those in dire need, all means available to us will be used to normalize life and restore calm," he said.

House Democrats have used every pro forma House session since late September to try to call the House back to work, which Republicans have generally ignored as they gavel the session closed. But no Democrat interrupted LaTourette on Tuesday, and he closed the session without being contested.

Tuesday's pro forma session was originally set for 10 a.m., but Republicans delayed it in order to give Sandy more time to pass Washington to the north. The Senate also held its required pro forma session, doing so at 4 p.m.

The next House pro forma session is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday morning.