House choosing pro forma meetings over adjournment

The House so far appears to be headed toward a series of pro forma sessions over the Christmas and New Years break, instead of a formal adjournment that Democrats have promised to protest.

The House reconvened Monday morning at 11 a.m., but Republicans did not try to pass a resolution allowing for an adjournment until Jan. 7, when the House will get back to work.

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Instead, Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who presided over the House today, said the House would return at 11 a.m. Thursday for another pro forma meeting.

Barring a longer-term adjournment, these pro forma sessions must occur every three days and usually don't include any legislative work. However, they can be used occasionally to pass bill quickly by unanimous consent.

House GOP leaders have not said why they are keeping the House in with this minimal schedule, or whether they would adjourn for good at some point until Jan. 7.

However, by keeping the House in pro forma sessions, Republicans seem to be avoiding a Democratic protest over emergency unemployment benefits that will expire on Dec. 28. Several Democrats have called on the House not to leave town for good until Congress extends emergency unemployment benefits.

Last week, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Democrats would be "vigorously opposed" to adjourning without an extension of the benefits.

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