The diagram below shows December dates by which Congress recessed for Christmas. Only once since WWII has Congress been in session on Christmas Eve. That was in 1963, when the House met at dawn and left before 10 a.m. Some rare Christmas breaks have been short, with lawmakers returning to Washington to continue their work before adjourning sine die to begin a new session in January. But December sessions are relatively common. Congress has held 35 such sessions since the 77th Congress of 1941 took up war-related legislation. In the current decade, highlighted in red below, only in the midterm election year of 2002 did members not meet in December.
This article appears in the December 19, 2009 edition of NJ Daily.