Wednesday, January 23, 2019

State of the Union-Can Trump Demand a Joint Session to Hear His Address? Maybe.

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution says:  “He (The President) shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper…”

Two points:

1. The Constitution DOES NOT specify HOW the President shall give information about the State of the Union to Congress.  With the exception of George Washington, all Presidents until Woodrow Wilson issued a WRITTEN REPORT.  Thomas Jefferson adopted the written report because he thought a formal address would make the President appear more like a King.

2. The President can “on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them…”  Trump could announce that the “crisis” on the border was an “extraordinary Occasion” requiring that the State of the Union be delivered by him in person to a joint session of Congress.  That’s happened 46 times to recall the Senate and 28 times to recall both Houses.. For example, Truman called a special Joint Session on inflation, housing and civil rights on July 27, 1948.  See:,-housing,-and-civil-rights/

Could Trump use his power to convene both Houses so he could deliver his State of the Union Address?  Maybe.  Truman did it.

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