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Lame Duck Sessions (1940-Present)


When Congress is in session after a November election and before the beginning of the new Congress, it is known as a "lame-duck session." Prior to the adoption of the Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution (1933), new Congresses convened in December of odd-numbered years, allowing the post-election Congress to meet and pass legislation for more than a year. The 1933 Amendment changed the convening date for a new Congress to January 3 of odd-numbered years, shortening the time between an election and the beginning of the next Congress to just two months. Since that time, Congress has met in lame-duck session to conclude urgent or unfinished business.

For more information on lame duck sessions, see Lame Duck Sessions of Congress, 1935-2016 (74th-114th Congresses) (pdf).

CongressSenate DatesHouse DatesMajor Topics
115 115th Nov 9, 2018-Jan 3, 2019Nov 9, 2018-Jan 3, 2019Coast Guard reauthorization, nominations, military assistance to Yemen, appropriations, farm bill, criminal justice reform, and furloughed agencies
114 114thNov 15, 2016-Jan 3, 2017Nov 14, 2016-Jan 3, 2017Iran sanctions, medical research and development, defense authorization, and appropriations
113 113thNov 12-Dec 16, 2014Nov 12-Dec 12, 2014Defense authorization, appropriations, nominations, and extension of tax cuts
112 112thNov 6, 2012-Jan 2, 2013Nov 6, 2012-Jan 2, 2013Defense authorization, FISA extension, disaster appropriations, extension of tax cuts, and delay of budget sequestration
111 111thNov 4-Dec 22, 2010Nov 15-Dec 22, 2010Judge Porteous impeachment, New START treaty, appropriations, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and extension of tax cuts
110 110thNov 17-Dec 11, 2008Nov 19-Dec 10, 2008Economic issues
109 109thNov 13-Dec 8, 2006Nov 13-Dec 8, 2006Appropriations
108 108thNov 16-Dec 8, 2004Nov 16-Dec 7, 2004Appropriations, intelligence reform
107 107thNov 7-20, 2002Nov 7-22, 2002Department of Homeland Security and appropriations
106 106thNov 14-Dec 15, 2000Nov 13-Dec 15, 2000Appropriations and other legislation
105 105thdid not meetDec 17-19, 1998Clinton impeachment
103 103rdNov 30-Dec 1, 1994Nov 29, 1994General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
097 97thNov 29-Dec 23, 1982Nov 29-Dec 21, 1982Appropriations and budget issues
096 96thNov 12-Dec 16, 1980Nov 12-Dec 16, 1980Budget, appropriations, and domestic legislation
093 93rdNov 18-Dec 20, 1974Nov 18-Dec 20, 1974Legislation delayed by Watergate investigation
091 91stNov 16, 1970-Jan 2, 1971Nov 16, 1970-Jan 2, 1971Domestic legislation and foreign aid
083 83rdNov 8-Dec 2, 1954did not meetCensure of Senator Joseph McCarthy
081 81stNov 27, 1950-Jan 2, 1951Nov 27, 1950-Jan 2, 1951Korean War
080 80thDec 31, 1948Dec 31, 1948Formalities to conclude business
078 78thNov 14-Dec 19, 1944Nov 14-Dec 19, 1944World War II and domestic legislation
077 77thNov 5-Dec 16, 1942Nov 5-Dec 16, 1942World War II
076 76thNov 7, 1940-Jan 3, 1941Nov 7, 1940-Jan 2, 1941Threat of war in Europe

Note: All pro forma sessions held during these lame duck sessions are included in the date ranges on this table.