When the latest Republican attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed in late July, President Donald Trump could have called out any of the three GOP senators who killed the effort.
He chose Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and this has so far proven to be a poor choice.
The president sent this tweet after the vote:
Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2017
Murkowski responded later that day on CNN, but her response was a mostly mild statement about being focused on her constituents and the work ahead.
But a few folks noticed that, just before the Senate went into August recess, Murkowski closed the chamber's business by announcing that the Senate would hold "pro forma" sessions every few days in August. Pro forma sessions are a procedural motion that prevents the president from appointing anyone during the recess month to a position that would normally require confirmation by the Senate. The motion passed without a dissenting vote.
Senate to meet in pro forma sessions on August 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29 and September 1. Next votes Sept 5
— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) August 3, 2017
The move is a blatant rebuke to Trump's authority, but Murkowski says she only did it because she "asked to read the final orders" as a "courtesy" since she was on the Senate floor, and Democrats "would not agree to adjourn without them."
The pro forma sessions come amid some fear that he might fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and try to appoint someone who would then fire special counsel Robert Mueller, the man in charge of investigating the Trump administration's ties with the Russian government. The attorney general has recused himself from investigations into possible Trump-Moscow collusion, as he aided the Trump campaign on its way to the White House.
The pro-forma sessions mean a Republican senator will have to show up to the Senate once every few days to briefly preside over a chamber of one, before heading out.