In 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had a bright idea. While nominally in recess over Thanksgiving, Reid enlisted senators to return to the empty Senate chamber every few days to conduct pro forma sessions. These sessions, typically no longer than thirty seconds each, successfully prevented then-President George W. Bush from making a recess appointment of a controversial new Surgeon General. Following this success, Democrats deployed this device throughout the remainder of President Bush's term in office. Bush, who had made forty recess appointments in 2006 alone, had been on pace to surpass President Ronald Reagan's all-time record of 243. But because of the Reid maneuver, Bush made none at all in his final twenty-one months in office. In late 2010, the Senate Republicans returned the favor: They forced the Democrat- controlled Senate to revive the Reid maneuver to block a batch of President Barack Obama's nominees during the break before the midterm elections. Again the maneuver successfully impeded the President from making any recess appointments. Republicans have since used the maneuver many times against Obama.
Platt, Alexander I.
"Preserving the Appointments Safety Valve,"
Yale Law & Policy Review: Vol. 30
, Article 8.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylpr/vol30/iss1/8