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How Often Does Congress Meet?

(From The Office of the Clerk of the House)

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the House convened legislative days on weekends far more often than the modern House. Changes in the nation’s size, transportation system, and the needs of Representatives and Delegates, account for this phenomenon. Traveling great distances by primitive modes of transportation, early Members of Congress compressed their brief legislative sessions in the nation’s capital, often meeting for six legislative days each week. In more recent times, aided by rapid transit, Members gather at the Capitol more frequently but tend to convene only three or four legislative days per week in order to spend the balance of their time in their districts. Despite the infrequency of modern working weekends, it is important to note the 1st Congress (1789 – 1791) lasted for 210 days over the course of two calendar years, while the 108th Congress (2003 – 2005) lasted for 659 days of the same two-year span.

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