Lame duck

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Lame duck sessions of the U.S. Congress happen in even numbered years when Congress reconvenes before the newly elected representatives take office, following the November midterm elections. Some lawmakers who return for this session lost their bids for reelection and will not be in the next Congress. Hence, they are informally called "lame duck" members participating in a "lame duck" session. The United States ratified the 20th Amendment in 1933, which is a law intended to kill off sessions like this, where defeated legislators return to legislate. However, politicians found a loophole in the constitutional amendment, and so lame duck politicians continue legislating during lame duck sessions.

A lame duck is a politician who is in office during that period only, or who has effectively lost their power because the public is looking forward to his replacement.

With respect to presidents, the term lame duck often refers to their second term, when they are politically weaker due the constitutional prohibition against their serving a third full term. Lame duck presidents are typically unable to move legislation to passage, as Congress may stall until the next presidential election to pass its legislation.

Soon after the 2006 Congressional election that gave Democrats control of Congress, George W. Bush became a lame duck having little political leverage, facing the opposite party in Congress which awaited the next president.

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