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Lame Duck Session of Congress


Definition: The lame duck session of Congress takes place after the November midterm elections. It only happens in even-numbered years. It's called lame duck because the members who lost the election don't have the same political power as they did before the election. They still have the same right to vote, but they don't have as much dealmaking power, which is important in setting fiscal policy.

All too often, nothing happens during a lame duck session, because outgoing members of Congress just stall bills or vote to vent their frustration. The necessity of compromise has disappeared. Therefore, a lame duck session in Congress is usually bad for the economy because of the uncertainty. It is especially bad if the Federal budget has not yet been approved. It is supposed to be approved by October 1, but this may not happen, especially in an election year. Often the lame duck session will approve emergency contingency funding, just to keep the government in business until the budget can be approved. For more, see U.S. Government Info, Lame Duck Sessions of Congress. (Article Updated November 15, 2010)

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