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Lame Duck Sessions (1940-Present)


CongressSenate DatesHouse DatesMajor Topics
2018_1109115th Nov 9, 2018 Nov 9, 2018 Pro forma session
2018_1113115th Nov 13-15, 2018 Nov 13-16, 2018 Coast Guard reauthorization, nominations
2018_1116115th Nov 16-23, 2018 Nov 20 & 23, 2018 Pro forma sessions
2018_1126115th Nov 26-Dec 22, 2018 Nov 27-Dec 22, 2018 Nominations, military assistance to Yemen, appropriations, farm bill, criminal justice reform, furloughed agencies
2018_1224115th Dec 24-31, 2018 Dec 6, 17, 24-31, 2018 Pro forma sessions
2019_0102115th Jan 2, 2019 Furloughed agencies, nominations
2019_0103115th Jan 3, 2019 Jan 2-3, 2019 Pro forma sessions
2016_1115114th Nov 15-17, 2016 Nov 14-17, 2016 Iran sanctions
2016_1118114th Nov 18-25, 2016 Nov 18-25, 2016 Pro forma sessions
2016_1128114th Nov 28-Dec 9, 2016 Nov 29-Dec 8, 2016 Medical research and development, defense authorization, and appropriations
2016_1213114th Dec 13-Jan 3, 2017 Dec 12-Jan 3, 2017 Pro forma sessions
2014_1112113th Nov 12-20, 2014
Dec 1-16, 2014
Nov 12-20, 2014
Dec 1-12, 2014
Defense authorization, appropriations, nominations, and extension of tax cuts
2012_1106112th Nov 6 & 9, 2012 Nov 6 & 9, 2012 Pro forma session
2012_1113112th Nov 13-16, 2012
Nov 26-Jan 2, 2013
Nov 13-16, 2012
Nov 27-Jan 3, 2013
Defense authorization, FISA extension, disaster appropriations, extension of tax cuts, and delay of budget sequestration
2010_1104111th Nov 4-12, 2010 -- Pro forma sessions
2010_1115111th Nov 15-19, 2010
Nov 29-Dec 22, 2010
Nov 15-18, 2010
Nov 29-Dec 22, 2010
Judge Porteous impeachment, New START treaty, appropriations, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and extension of tax cuts
2008_1117110th Nov 17-20, 2008
Dec 8-11, 2008
Nov 19-20, 2008
Dec 9-10, 2008
Economic issues
2006_1113109th Nov 13-16, 2006
Dec 4-8, 2006
Nov 13-15, 2006
Dec 5-8, 2006
Appropriations
2004_1116108th Nov 16-24, 2004 Nov 16-24, 2004 Appropriations
2004_1207108th Dec 7-8, 2004 Dec 6-7, 2004 Intelligence Reform
2002_1107107th Nov 7-8, 2002 Nov 7-8, 2002 Pro forma session
2002_1112107th Nov 12-20, 2002 Nov 12-22, 2002 Department of Homeland Security and appropriations
2000_1114106th Nov 14, 2000
Dec 5-15, 2000
Nov 13-14, 2000
Dec 4-15, 2000
Appropriations and other legislation
1998_1217105th did not meet Dec 17-19, 1998 Clinton impeachment
1994_1130103rd Nov 30 & Dec 1, 1994 Nov 29, 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
1982_112997th Nov 29-Dec 23, 1982 Nov 29-Dec 21, 1982 Appropriations and budget issues
1980_111296th Nov 12-25, 1980
Dec 1-16, 1980
Nov 12-24, 1980
Dec 1-16, 1980
Budget, appropriations, and domestic legislation
1974_111893rd Nov 18-26, 1974
Dec 2-20, 1974
Nov 18-26, 1974
Dec 2-20, 1974
Legislation delayed by Watergate investigation
1970_111691st Nov 16, 1970-Jan 2, 1971 Nov 16, 1970-Jan 2, 1971 Domestic legislation and foreign aid
1954_110883rd Nov 8-17, 1954
Nov 29-Dec 2, 1954
did not meet Censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy
1950_112781st Nov 27-Dec 22, 1950 Nov 27-Dec 22, 1950 Korean War
1950_122681st Dec 26, 29, 1950 -- Pro forma session
1951_010281st Jan 2, 1951 Dec 26, 1950-Jan 2, 1951 Korean War
1948_123180th Dec 31, 1948 Dec 31, 1948 Formalities to conclude business
1944_111478th Nov 14-Dec 19, 1944 Nov 14-Dec 19, 1944 World War II and domestic legislation
1942_110577th Nov 5-Dec 16, 1942 Nov 5-Dec 16, 1942 World War II
1940_110776th Nov 7, 1940-Jan 3, 1941 Nov 7, 1940-Jan 2, 1941 Threat of war in Europe

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 rarely, to conclude urgent or unfinished business.

For more information on lame duck sessions, see Lame Duck Sessions of Congress, 1935-2012 (74th-112th Congresses) (pdf).