The Senate will convene every couple of days - Nov. 20, Nov. 23, Nov. 27, Nov. 29 - in order to prevent Bush from taking advantage of its absence to place individuals in positions requiring Senate confirmation.
Bush has made several controversial recess appointments, including John Bolton as U.S. representative to the United Nations in Aug. 2005, when the Senate would not confirm the individuals. Bolton later resigned from the U.N. post when the Senate refused to confirm his nomination.
In April 2007, Bush appointed Sam Fox as U.S. ambassador to Belgium. Fox gave $50,000 to the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 presidential campaign. Fox's appointment infuriated Reid and other Democrats, including Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), the target of the Swift Boat campaign. Reid vowed that, in the future, he would move to head off any more recess appointments, but the White House and Senate Democrats were able to work out a compromise to cover the August break.
But with Congress now headed into a two-week recess, the White House and Reid were not able to reach a similar agreement, so the majority leader decided to convene the Senate in pro forma sessions. There had been widespread speculation that Bush would use a recess appointment for James Holsinger as U.S. surgeon general if the Senate were adjourned for the full two-week Thanksgiving recess.