The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Thursday, June 17, 2004

The fiction of the lame-duck session

In The Hill yesterday, a piece under a hed and dek in alarming tone:
Lame-duck session looms
Not enough time to get through legislative agenda

Well, duh!

For a start, as I understand it, there is no separate session: the houses of Congress merely go into recess in October, and return in November to continue the same, second session of the 108th Congress.

Substantively, a glance at a list of Congressional Sessions shows that for Congress to sit in the November or December of the second year of a Congress [1] is almost as likely as not. The 91st, 93rd, 96th, 97th, 103rd, 105th, 106th and 107th Congresses all did this: eight out of the last 17.

Why the shock horror?

NPR ombud Jeffrey Dvorkin goes one worse: in a piece (June 16) touching on the bills [2] introduced to reintroduce the draft, he says
When Congress adjourns in October, both bills will die on the order paper and if they are to become law, they will have to be reintroduced again in the next Congress.

But, if there's a lame duck 'session', the bills will surely continue to be alive until that ends [3].

  1. There should be different words for the institution and the temporal unit, but there isn't.

  2. He gets the bill numbers bizarrely wrong! far too low for this stage in the Congress. I can't trace on THOMAS recent bills on the subject sponsored either by Rep Rangel or Sen Hollings.

  3. Dvorkin says that these bills - whose numbers he gets wrong - have not
    been put into the system for committee approval.
    Would that mean that they would fall by the mere intervention of a recess?

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