This is from the House Historian's Office.
1. 2005, for Katrina emergency supplemental2. 1991, for numerous appropriations and other bills3. 1980
Traditionally, there have been periods of time where Congress adjourned throughout the month of August as far back as the second session of the First Congress in 1790. The first period of time that Congress adjourned in the month of August was 12 August 1790 until the beginning of the third session of the First Congress on 6 December 1790.
The Speaker of the House works with House Leadership on deciding the calendar for the Congressional Year. In the 19th Century, Congress adjourned in June or July and would not sit in August, although on a few occasions it did meet in August. One reason for this late summer recess was the extreme heat and humidity. After 1911, the House frequently met throughout the summer, including in August, adjourning in the fall. During World War II, Congress was in almost continual session, a practice that continued on and off into the 1960s.
In 1970, Congress formalized an "August Recess." In section 132(a) of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 provides as follows:Unless otherwise provided by the Congress, the two Houses shall-(1) adjourn sine die not later than July 31 of each year; or (2) in the case of an odd-numbered year, provide, not later than July 31 of such year, by concurrent resolution adopted in each House by roll call vote, for the adjournment of the two Houses from that Friday in August which occurs at least thirty days before the first Monday in September (Labor Day) of such year to the second day after Labor Day.(b) This section shall not be applicable in any year if on July 31 of such year a state of war exists pursuant to a declaration of war by the Congress.
Since then, the longest recess in House history was in the 108th Congress, 2nd Session from 23 July 2004- 6 September 2004 for a total of 46 days.
One of the more recent instances of the House being called back occurred on 2 September 2005, four days prior to when the House was scheduled to meet again.
On 29 July 2005, Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) rose and announced, "Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution 225, 109th Congress, I move that the House do now adjourn." The motion was agreed to and the Speaker Pro Tempore, Representative Tom Price (R-GA) announced, "Pursuant to House Concurrent Resolution 225, 109th Congress, the House stands adjourned until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6, 2005. However, Hurricane Katrina had decimated the Gulf Coast, especially around New Orleans, and emergency Congressional action was required. On 2 September 2005 a notification letter by the Speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and the Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), was inserted into the Congressional Record that read;
"The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair lays before the House the text of the formal notification sent to Members on Thursday, September 1, 2005, of the reassembling of the House. CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, Washington, DC, September 1, 2005. DEAR COLLEAGUE: Pursuant to section 2 of House Concurrent Resolution 225, after consultation with the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and the Minority Leader of the Senate, we hereby notify the Members of the Senate to reassemble at 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 1, 2005, and the members of the House of Representatives to reassemble at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, September 2, 2005. Sincerely,J. Dennis Hastert,Speaker of the House.
William H. Frist, M.D.,Majority Leader of the Senate.
Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA) rose to consider EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT TO MEET IMMEDIATE NEEDS ARISING FROM THE CONSEQUENCES OF HURRICANE KATRINA, 2005.
Another August recess period that the House was called back for business occurred on 15 August 1991 (Volume 137, Number 122 of the Congressional Record).
On 2 August 1991, Representative Bruce Vento (D-MN) rose and said, "Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn." The motion was agreed to whereby the Speaker announced, "Pursuant to the provisions of Senate concurrent resolution 59 of the 102d Congress, the House stands adjourned until 12 noon on Wednesday, September 11, 1991."
However, on 15 August 1991, Representative Charles G. Rose (D-NC), from the Committee on House Administration, reported to the House that the Committee had examined and found truly enrolled bills and a joint resolution of the House of the following titles, which were thereupon signed by the Speaker;
H.R. 904. An act to direct the Secretary of the Interior to prepare a national historic landmark theme study on African American history;
H.R. 991. An act to extend the expiration date of the Defense Production Act of 1950, and for other purposes;
H.R. 1006. An act to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 1992 for the Federal Maritime Commission, and for other purposes;
H.R. 1143. An act to authorize a study of nationally significant places in American labor history;
H.R. 2123. An act to amend the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act to establish a predictable and equitable method for determining the amount of the annual Federal payment to the District of Columbia;
H.R. 2313. An act to amend the School Dropout Demonstration Assistance Act of 1988 to extend authorization of appropriations through fiscal year 1993, and for other purposes;
H.R. 2427. An act making appropriations for energy and water development for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1992, and for other purposes;
H.R. 2506. An act making appropriations for the legislative branch for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1992, and for other purposes;
H.R. 2968. An act to waive the period of congressional review for certain District of Columbia acts;
H.R. 2699. An act making appropriations for the government of the District of Columbia and other activities chargeable in whole or in part against the revenues of said District for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1992, and for other purposes;
H.R. 2969. An act to permit the Mayor of the District of Columbia to reduce the budgets of the board of education and other independent agencies of the District, to permit the District of Columbia to carry out a program to reduce the number of employees of the District government, and for other purposes;
H.R. 3201. An act to provide emergency unemployment compensation, and for other purposes; and
H.J. Res. 309. Joint resolution designating August 29, 1991, as `National Sarcoidosis Awareness Day.'
In addition, The SPEAKER announced his signature to enrolled bills and a joint resolution of the Senate of the following titles:
S. 1593. An act to improve the operation and effectiveness of the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science, and for other purposes;
S. 1594. An act to honor and commend the efforts of Terry Beirn, to amend the Public Health Service Act, to rename and make technical amendments to the community-based AIDS research initiative, and for other purposes;
S. 1608. An act to make technical amendments to the Nutrition Information and Labeling Act, and for other purposes; and
S.J. Res. 72. Joint resolution to designate the week of September 15, 1991, through September 21, 1991, as `National Rehabilitation Week.'
Other business that day included; "Pursuant to the provisions of section 103 of House Resolution 51, 102d Congress, and the order of the House of August 2, 1991, authorizing the Speaker and the minority leader to accept resignations and to make appointments authorized by law or by the House, the Speaker on August 8, 1991, did appoint the gentleman from Illinois [Mr. Hastert] to the Select Committee on Hunger to fill the existing vacancy thereon." And "Pursuant to the provisions of section 491 of the Higher Education Act, as amended by section 407 of Public Law 99-498, and the order of the House of August 2, 1991, authorizing the Speaker and the minority leader to accept resignations to make appointments authorized by law or by the House, the Speaker on August 15, 1991, reappointed on the part of the House the following member to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance: Mr. James R. Craig, Bozeman, MT." And finally, "Pursuant to the provisions of section 102(b) of Public Law 102-62, and the order of the House of August 2, 1991, authorizing the Speaker and the minority leader to accept resignations and to make appointments authorized by law or by the House, the Speaker on August 15, 1991, did appoint to the National Education Commission on time and learning the following members on the part of the House: Mr. William Shelton, Ypsilanti, MI, and Mr. Michael J. Barrett, Cambridge, MA."
In 1980, although it was planned, the House adjourned on Friday 1 August 1980 for the August recess periods per the Speakers' instructions; however the House planned to reconvene at noon on Wednesday, 18 August 1980. This 17 day recess would be used for district work time and for the Presidential nomination conventions for both parties.
When the House reconvened on 18 August 1980, the chamber considered: The Department of Energy defense authorization, the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1980, Treasury-Postal Appropriation, and there were plans to bring up amendments to the The Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 (to limit the amount of direct funding and increase the use of loan guarantees and insurance coverage to facilitate the export of American goods).