Article 2, Section 3

By Dr. Ed DeVries

US ConstitutionYesterday afternoon I sat in my truck seat, literally in shock, listening on the radio to the President of the United States telling reporters that he will be looking into alternative venues for his upcoming State of the Union address. 

Nancy Pelosi told the president that he couldn’t give his speech in the House Chamber and the former star of The Apprentice, who you’d think would be in the habit of telling Pelosi types “you’re fired,” just says, “OK” and puts his team of lawyers and other staffers to the task of finding him another “suitable location.”  

Then, when the president’s press conference had concluded, one after another, the supposedly “conservative” radio personalities and their callers debated among themselves about where the president might go to give his State of the Union address. 

This morning I awake to read in my news feed that the president has decided to concede to the speaker and postpone his State of the Union address until after the government shut-down has ended.

Am I the only person who reads his pocket-sized copy of the Constitution? Maybe I’m the only person who still has one of those little boogers? 

Article 2, Section 3 says that:

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 [The President] shall judge necessary and expedient; he [The President] may, on extraordinary Occasions [certainly this qualifies as an extraordinary occasion], convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he [The President] may adjourn them to such Time as he [The President] shall think proper; he [The President] shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he [The President] shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Where, in all of that, was there a single mention of the speaker of the House? 

While all the talking heads on CNN, Fox News, “talk radio” etc. are talking about “alternative venues.” While the former speaker, Newt Gingrich, is talking about how Speaker Pelosi does not have the support of the House in her “denial.” And still others are suggesting that the president speak to the Senate in their Chamber, excluding the House. 

Why is no one talking about the plain and simple fact that the speaker simply has NO authority in this matter!

The speaker does not invite the president to the House Chamber to give the State of the Union. The president, according to Article 2, Section 3 does so because it is his clearly stated constitutional duty to do so. 

According to Article 2, Section 3 it is the president, not the speaker, who calls both Houses of Congress into session, and the president, not the speaker, determines the date and time. 

And, according to Article 2, Section 3, the president could convene both Houses of Congress, forcing them to go into, and/or stay in, session for any “extraordinary occasions,” including, but not limited to, the State of the Union. 

That means that not only can President Trump tell the members of both houses of Congress to show up in the House Chamber next Tuesday for his State of the Union address (Pelosi’s un-invite or forbiddance not withstanding). The president can even take it a step farther, and use his State of the Union speech as an occasion to tell Congress that they are not taking another vacation, not leaving on another “fact-finding trip,” not taking another trip home, not even leaving for lunch, until they have passed a balanced budget that provides for border security. 

Lest anyone on the Democrat side of the isle or in the “fake-news” media say, “He can’t do that,” or “It’s never been done before,” or anything similar, I’d like to remind everyone that “on 27 occasions,” according to, “presidents have called both houses into session to deal with a crisis.” 

The instance that stands out the most in my mind was when, on July 26, 1948 Democrat President Harry Truman invoked Article 2, Section 3 from the floor of the Democrat National Convention (tell me that wasn’t a political “stunt”) to call upon both houses of the then Republican-controlled Congress to pass laws to “advance civil rights, extend Social Security and create a national health care program.” Truman literally gave them 15 days to do it. 

Sen. Robert Taft (R-Ohio), the chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, in true Pelosi/Schumer fashion, accused the president of abusing his executive power and blocked all votes. While President Truman could not force the Congress to vote his way, the Supreme Court did agree that the Constitution gives the president the power to force them into their chambers at a time when they otherwise do not want to be there. Remember that 1948 was an election year. And the same Constitution gives the same power to President Donald Trump. 

The American people also sided with President Truman, as evidenced in the next election. 

While the “do nothing” 80th Congress failed to give the president what he was asking for in 1948, I am going to postulate that calling them into session as he did is probably the very reason why Truman, whose approval ratings were at 36% and falling on July 26, 1948 went on to beat the very popular Thomas Dewey in November. And the 81st Congress, owing their elections to the country’s collective dissatisfaction for their “do nothing” predecessors, voted to give President Truman pretty much everything he was asking for. 

As I type, I remember a night when, as a high-schooler, I was sitting in my room and watching my little black-and-white TV. The 40th president, who had formerly been a movie and TV star, was standing in Berlin, Germany. In what would become the most dramatic moment of his presidency, the moment for which he would be remembered for all time, the moment historians now credit as the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan looked into the TV camera and said: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

On Tuesday, the 45th president, who, like Reagan, had also been one of my favorite TV stars before his election, has an opportunity. An opportunity to stand before the nation via television and impact the history of our nation far more than did Truman or Reagan.

I fear this president simply lacks the vision and leadership to exercise his executive prerogative as written in Article 2, Section 3. Still, for the next few days I can hope. Hope to be sitting in my big chair on Tuesday night, watching my now much larger color TV, as the former star of The Apprentice, standing at the speaker’s podium in the House Chamber, addressing both Houses of Congress, looks deeply into the camera. In what will likely become the most dramatic moment of his Presidency, Donald J. Trump tells the old sow seated behind him, “Madam Speaker – BUILD THE WALL!” 

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