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A Guide To Sessions of Congress

Congressional Calendars 1971-2008

This guide to the Sessions of Congress includes the beginning and ending dates, recesses, and leaders for each session.

History of Congressional Sessions
Per a resolution of the Confederation Congress in 1788, the Constitution went into effect on March 4, 1789. From then until the 20th amendment took effect in January 1934, the term of each Congress began on March 4th of each odd-numbered year.

However, Article I, section 4, of the Constitution provided that "The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by law appoint a different day." The Congress therefore convened regularly on the first Monday in December until the 20th amendment became effective, which changed the beginning of Congress's term as well as its convening date to January 3rd.

Thus, prior to 1934 a new Congress typically would not convene for regular business until 13 months after being elected. One effect of this was that the last session of each Congress was truly a "lame duck" session. After the 20th amendment, the time from the election to the beginning of Congress's term as well as when it convened was reduced to two months.

Recognizing that Congress might need to meet at times other than the regularly scheduled convening date, Article II, section 3 of the Constitution provides that the President "may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them." Such a session occurs only if convened by Presidential proclamation. These are separately numbered sessions of a Congress

Until the 20th amendment was adopted, there were also times when special sessions of the Senate were convened, principally for confirming Cabinet and other executive nominations, and occasionally for the ratification of treaties or other executive business. These Senate sessions were also called by Presidential proclamation (typically by the outgoing President, although on occasion by incumbents as well).

Meeting Places of Congress: Congress met for the first and second sessions of the First Congress (1789 and 1790) in New York City. From the third session of the First Congress through the first session of the Sixth Congress (1790 to 1800), Philadelphia was the meeting place. Congress has convened in Washington since the second session of the Sixth Congress (1800).

The Senate is led by the President pro temp; the House, by the Speaker of the House.

Also see A Visual Guide: The Balance Of Power Between Congress and The Presidency

Years Congress Dates Leaders
2007-2008 110th Congress Session 1:
January 4 - December 31, 2007
Session 2: January 3 - TBD
Senate: Robert Byrd, WV
House: Nancy Pelosi, CA
2005-2006 109th Congress Session 1:
January 4 - December 22, 2005
Session 2:
January 3 - December 8, 2006
Senate: Ted Stevens, AK
House: Dennis Hastert, IL
2003-2004 108th Congress Session 1:
January 7 - December 9, 2003
Session 2: January 20 - December 8, 2004
Senate: Ted Stevens, AK
House: Dennis Hastert, IL
2001-2002 107th Congress Session 1:
January 3 - December 20, 2001
Session 2:
January 23 - November 22, 2002
Senate: Robert Byrd, WV
House: Dennis Hastert, IL
1999-2000 106th Congress Session 1:
January 6 - November 22, 1999
Session 2:
January 24 - December 15, 2000
Senate: Strom Thurmond, SC
House: Dennis Hastert, IL
1997-1998 105th Congress Session 1:
January 7 - November 13, 1997
Session 2:
January 27 - December 19, 1998
Senate: Strom Thurmond, SC
House: Newt Gingrich, GA
1995-1996 104th Congress Session 1:
January 4 - January 3, 1996
Session 2:
January 3 - October 4, 1996
Senate: Strom Thurmond, SC
House: Newt Gingrich, GA
1993-1994 103rd Congress Session 1:
January 5 - November 26, 1993
Session 2:
January 25 - December 1, 1994
Senate: Robert Byrd, WV
House: Tom Foley, WA
1991-1992 102nd Congress Session 1:
January 3 - January 3, 1992
Session 2:
January 3 - October 9, 1992
Senate: Robert Byrd, WV
House: Tom Foley, WA
1989-1990 101st Congress Session 1:
January 3 - November 22, 1989
Session 2:
January 23 - October 28, 1990
Senate: Robert Byrd, WV
House: James Wright, TX
1987-1988 100th Congress Session 1:
January 6 - December 22, 1987
Session 2:
January 25 - October 22, 1988
Senate: John Stennis, MS
House: James Wright, TX
1985-1986 99th Congress Session 1:
January 3 - December 20, 1985
Session 2:
January 21 - October 18, 1986
Senate: Strom Thurmond, SC
House: Tip O'Neal, MA
1983-1984 98th Congress Session 1:
January 3 - November 18, 1983
Session 2:
January 23 - October 12, 1984
Senate: Strom Thurmond, SC
House: Tip O'Neal, MA
1981-1982 97th Congress Session 1:
January 5 - December 16, 1981
Session 2:
January 25 - December 23, 1982
Senate: Strom Thurmond, SC
House: Tip O'Neal, MA
1979-1980 96th Congress Session 1:
January 15, 1979 - January 3, 1980
Session 2:
January 3 - December 16, 1980
Senate: Warren Magnuson, WA;
Milton Young, ND;
Warren Magnuson, WA
House: Tip O'Neal, MA
1977-1978 95th Congress Session 1:
January 4 - December 15, 1977
Session 2:
January 19 - October 15, 1978
Senate: James Eastland, MS
House: Tip O'Neal, MA
1975-1977 94th Congress Session 1:
January 14 - December 19, 1975
Session 2:
January 19 - October 1, 1976
Senate: James Eastland, MS
House: Carl Albert, OK
1973-1974 93rd Congress Session 1:
January 3 - December 22, 1973
Session 2:
January 21 - December 20, 1974
Senate: James Eastland, MS
House: Carl Albert, OK
1971-1972 92nd Congress Session 1:
January 21 - December 17, 1971
Session 2:
January 18 - October 18, 1972
Senate: Richard Russell, GA;
Allen Ellender, LA;
James Eastland, MS
House: Carl Albert, OK
Source: GPO Access
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