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

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