Congressional calendar

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The congressional calendar is a detailed description of the days for which the U.S. Congress will be in session. The leadership of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate release the projected calendar at the beginning of each congressional session, often differing slightly. The calendar designates holidays, in addition to district work periods, which designate time for members of Congress to return home and interact with their constituents. Generally, a targeted adjournment date is set, although this is often adjusted as unforseen circumstances and responsibilities arise. [1]


Days in session

The number of days which the House and Senate hold session varies greatly by year. The graph and charts below detail the day total for each chamber since 1993, in addition to the House Speaker and Senate majority leader who presided over the respective bodies. (Note: the 2006 figures are based on the days Congress had met through August 16, in addition to those days planned for the remainder of the session)



YearDays in sessionHouse SpeakerYearDays in sessionHouse SpeakerYearDays in sessionHouse Speaker
1963186John McCormack (D-Mass.)1978149Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.)1993143Tom Foley (D-Wash.)
1964148John McCormack (D-Mass.)1979173Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.)1994124Tom Foley (D-Wash.)
1965173John McCormack (D-Mass.)1980153Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.)1995183Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)
1966163John McCormack (D-Mass.)1981163Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.)1996128Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)
1967189John McCormack (D-Mass.)1982140Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.)1997134Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)
1968138John McCormack (D-Mass.)1983146Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.)1998119Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.)
1969186John McCormack (D-Mass.)1984120Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.)1999139Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
1970164John McCormack (D-Mass.)1985152Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.)2000139Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
1971135Carl Albert (D-Okla.)1986129Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.)2001146Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
1972135Carl Albert (D-Okla.)1987169Jim Wright (D-Texas)2002126Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
1973175Carl Albert (D-Okla.)1988129Jim Wright (D-Texas)2003138Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
1974159Carl Albert (D-Okla.)1989147Jim Wright (D-Texas), Tom Foley (D-Wash.)2004110Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
1975173Carl Albert (D-Okla.)1990134Tom Foley (D-Wash.)2005141Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
1976138Carl Albert (D-Okla.)1991154Tom Foley (D-Wash.)2006101 (record low)Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
1977174Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.)1992123Tom Foley (D-Wash.)200759 (as of April 30th)Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.)


YearDays in sessionSenate majority leaderYearDays in sessionSenate majority leaderYearDays in sessionSenate majority leader
1963189Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1978159Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)1993153George Mitchell (D-Maine)
1964186Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1979167Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)1994138George Mitchell (D-Maine)
1965177Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1980166Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)1995211Bob Dole (R-Kan.)
1966168Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1981165Howard Baker (R-Tenn.)1996132Bob Dole (R-Kan.), Trent Lott (R-Miss.)
1967200Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1982147Howard Baker (R-Tenn.)1997153Trent Lott (R-Miss.)
1968158Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1983150Howard Baker (R-Tenn.)1998143Trent Lott (R-Miss.)
1969176Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1984131Howard Baker (R-Tenn.)1999162Trent Lott (R-Miss.)
1970208Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1985170Bob Dole (R-Kan.)2000141Trent Lott (R-Miss.)
1971186Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1986143Bob Dole (R-Kan.)2001173Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.)
1972162Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1987170Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)2002149Tom Daschle (D-S.D.)
1973184Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1988137Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)2003167Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)
1974168Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1989136George Mitchell (D-Maine)2004133Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)
1975178Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1990138George Mitchell (D-Maine)2005159Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)
1976142Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.)1991158George Mitchell (D-Maine)2006138Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)
1977178Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)1992129George Mitchell (D-Maine)200764 (as of April 30th)Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

Note: In 1996, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) replaced Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) on May 16, 1996. In 2001, Lott served as majority leader from January 20 through June 5, 2001. Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) replaced him on this date for the remainder of the congressional session.

Criticism of the 109th Congress

The 2nd session of the 109th Congress received sharp criticism in 2006 for the comparatively low number of days with which it conducted (or scheduled to conduct) legislative business. As of August 16, the House had met only 79 days, and scheduled only 12-16 additional days before the close of the session. The Senate planned to meet only 125 days during the 2006 session. Each figure, if the schedule goes to plan, will be the lowest in the respective branches in well over a decade. [2] [3]

Attendance in Congress

While some Congresses are in session more days and longer hours than others, individual members ultimately determine the amount of time they spend on Capitol Hill. In any given Congress, some members will have perfect attendance records, while others will have missed dozens, if not hundreds, of votes. Campaigning, as well as suffering an illness, are two of the more common reasons a member will be absent from a floor vote.

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