The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article II, Section 3: “[The President] may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them.…” This provision in the United States Constitution provides authority to the President to call special sessions of Congress whenever he feels it is necessary. This provision in the Constitution was absolutely necessary during the days of the Founders because Congress met for only a few months each year. Now that Congress is in Washington, D.C., more than in their home states, this provision is not ordinarily used.
“The important functions of declaring war, appropriating funds for military action, borrowing emergency resources, and so forth, are all powers which rest exclusively in the Congress, not the President. This provision gives the President the power to call the Congress into action when needed.” (See W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 560.)
“Under British practice, the king could convene or dissolve Parliament at will. In the Declaration of Independence, it was one of the grounds for separation from England….
“The Framers of the Constitution insisted, therefore, that Congress’s right to convene must be independent of the will of the executive. Article I, Section 4, Clause 2….
“Nonetheless, the Framers also understood that the government must be able to meet exigent circumstances and therefore gave the President the very limited power to convene Congress `on extraordinary occasions.’ Justice Joseph Story indicated in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States that the President’s need to conduct foreign relations effectively would be the primary motive for convening Congress….
“… President Harry S. Truman called the last special session on July 15, 1948.
“Even more important to the Framers was limiting the power of the executive to dissolve the legislature. They understood that that power was among the quickest routes to tyranny….” (See David F. Forte, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 219-220.)