Five Things You Should Know About This Lame Duck Session of the U.S. Congress

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1. The term “lame duck” refers to those Members of Congress returning to Washington, D.C. after the election (post-November 6) but before the next Congress begins (pre-January 3). A lame duck, the argument goes, legislates without the pressure of winning votes in future elections. On the other hand, the lame duck session of a Congress is part of the term that each Member of Congress has been elected to serve. The post-election session planned in this 112th Congress, beginning the week of November 12, is therefore known as a lame duck session of Congress.

2. Even before the elections, we know at least 63 Members of Congress are not returning due to lost primaries, death, resignation, retirement and decisions to run for other offices. That is more than 10% of the Congress. Plus, additional Members of Congress could be defeated in the November 6 elections and some certainly will. There are currently 32 sitting Members of Congress in races that the experts consider too close to call and 17 races pitting sitting Members of Congress against other Members of Congress.

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