National Lame Duck Day

National Lame Duck Day is a holiday observed on February 6th that celebrates the U.S. Constitution’s 20th Amendment—known colloquially as the Lame Duck Amendment. Before the passage of the 20th Amendment, the U.S. president and members of Congress remained in office until March 4th after losing an election in November. After the passage of the 20th Amendment, the term for the U.S. President ended on January 20th, and for members of Congress, it ended on January 3rd. This amendment essentially shortens the “lame-duck” term of these politicians and allows the newly elected politicians to enter office sooner.

The History of the 20th Amendment

The 72nd U.S. Congress proposed the 20th Amendment to the Constitution on March 2, 1932. The amendment was then adopted after 36 states, ¾ of all 48 U.S. states, ratified the amendment. The amendment was adopted on January 23, 1933. No one knows for sure who invented National Lame Duck Day or why February 6th was picked as the arbitrary day for its observance.

Interesting Facts About Lame Ducks

Now that we’ve gone into the history of this holiday, as well as the history of the 20th Amendment, we thought that we’d dig a little bit deeper into “lame ducks.” During the course of our research, we came across the following lame duck facts that we think many of our readers are going to appreciate.

Each Lame Duck Session Is Unique

The one thing that researchers have noticed about lame-duck sessions of Congress is that sometimes they are highly productive and sometimes they aren’t productive at all. Some lame-duck congressmen are less likely to vote along party lines to get a bill through, while others aren’t likely to vote at all. While most politicians vote along party lines 83% of the time, that percentage drops down to 80% during lame duck sessions.

Congress Has Taken Action During Some Lame Duck Sessions

Of course, during some lame-duck sessions, some things have managed to go through Congress. For example, budget resolutions were passed during the lame-duck session of 1980, articles of impeachment against U.S. President Bill Clinton were approved in 1998, and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in 2010 by the lame-duck session of Congress.

The Term Lame Duck Was Coined in the 18th Century

The phrase “lame duck” didn’t always describe politicians; it was originally coined during the 18th century to describe stockbrokers who defaulted on their debts. The first use of it was in 1761 in a letter from Horace Walpole to Sir Horace Mann.

Observing National Lame Duck Day

Anyone can observe National Lame Duck Day by taking a few moments to learn about lame duck U.S. presidents and sessions of Congress or by learning more about the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. People who have given their two-week notice to their employers can also celebrate this holiday because they’re technically lame ducks. And while we’re all enjoying this day, why not take a few moments to leave the hashtag #NationalLameDuckDay on your social media posts for the day

When is it?
This year (2024)
February 6 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
February 6 Thursday
Last year (2023)
February 6 Monday
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