Work getting done on Senate floor — literally

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“Republicans have made it clear that they do not intend to come back to town. We decided not to waste taxpayer money on pro forma sessions when Republicans have already made their choice not to stand up for the middle class,” a Democratic aide said.

With only one lawmaker, Rep. Mac Thornberry, Texas Republican, in the chamber, the House passed its motion to adjourn and notified the Senate. Under an earlier agreement, that meant the Senate didn’t even have to meet to ratify the motion.

The Senate had been prepared for a full session, to be held in a big room in the Hart Senate Office Building.

A police screening station, complete with a metal detector, was set up just in case any members of the public wanted to show up — though none had as of just minutes before the session.

The Senate has met outside its chamber once since the Capitol was reconstructed after the War of 1812: last summer, when an earthquake forced the Capitol to be evacuated just before a similar pro forma session.

In that case, the Senate convened in a nearby government office building.

Pro forma sessions have become contentious this Congress, with Republicans using them to prevent President Obama from making recess appointments. House Republicans came into session every three days, which under a provision of the Constitution meant the Senate also had to hold sessions — and as long as the Senate was in, Mr. Obama’s recess powers were in check.

But earlier this year, the president, ignoring decades of tradition, used his powers even though the chambers were meeting every three days.

A Senate aide said Mr. Obama agreed not to make any recess appointments this summer, heading off another constitutional flare-up.

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