WASHINGTON — The Senate is famed for its longwinded debates, but on Friday it took Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown just seconds to stop Republicans in their tracks.
With the Senate entering the first day of its Memorial Day recess, the Ohio senator was briefly in the chair, before a near-empty chamber, to gavel in and gavel out what is called a pro forma session. Without that procedural move, the Senate would technically be adjourned and President Bush could install administration officials or judges as "recess appointments" — without Senate confirmation.
"That's the fastest I've ever done it," said Brown, who like other freshmen does duty as presiding officer when the Senate is in regular session. He said he didn't realize until he got there that the prayer and Pledge of Allegiance, which usually open a session, were dispensed with for pro forma meetings.
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