Friday, 12 November 2010


A Congress runs from noon on the 3rd January (20th Amendment Section I) in an odd numbered year until it expires exactly two years later. There may be, as this year, a "lame duck" session after the elections until both House and Senate adjourn "Sine Die" (which is done by a concurrent resolution). Unless recalled in an emergency, and the concurrent resolution normally has provisions for recall authority, the Congress then doesn't meet until it automatically expires. The First meeting of the New Congress may be on 3rd January or a later date agreed in advance. Each Congress is numbered, from the first which met in 1789. So the Congress which come into existence in eight weeks time will be the 112th Congress of the United States. The House is renewed for each Congress, but the Senate regards itself as a continuing body. (A very important point, which we will return to in future posts about the Cloture rules).

The dates and numbers of recent Congresses are

Number     Dates       House Majority      Senate Majority

93rd     1973-1975         Dem                        Dem
94th     1975-1977         Dem                         Dem

95th     1977-1979         Dem                         Dem
96th     1979-1981         Dem                         Dem
97th     1981-1983         Dem                         Rep
98th     1983-1985         Dem                         Rep
99th     1985-1987         Dem                         Rep
100th   1987-1989         Dem                         Dem
101st   1989-1991         Dem                         Dem
102nd  1991-1993         Dem                         Dem
103rd  1993-1995         Dem                         Dem
104th   1995-1997         Rep                          Rep
105th   1997-1999         Rep                          Rep
106th   1999-2001         Rep                          Rep
107th   2001-2003         Rep                          Dem/Rep (Jan 20-Jun 6 2001)/Dem
108th   2003-2005         Rep                          Rep
109th   2005-2007         Rep                          Rep
110th   2007-2009         Dem                        Dem
111th   2009-2011         Dem                        Dem
112th   2011-2013         Rep                         Dem

In the United Kingdom the numbers are not so widely used. Instead the common practice is to refer to a Parliament by the year (or of there are two General Elections in one year, by month and year) of its first meeting. However, officuially the current Parliament is recognised as the 55th Parliament of the United Kingdom. (The Printed version of Hansard each Monday begins - "IN THE FIRST SESSION OF THE FIFTY-FIFTH PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND [WHICH OPENED 18 MAY 2010]"

No.     Election          Government

46th    Feb 1974       Labour
47th    Oct 1974       Labour
48th    1979              Conservative
49th    1983              Conservative
50th    1987              Conservative
51st    1992              Conservative
52nd   1997              Labour
53rd    2001             Labour
54th     2005             Labour
55th     2010             Conservative/Liberal Democrat

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