Now that the Twentieth Amendment makes the new session of Congress begin on January 3rd, which is 17 days before the inauguration on January 20th (previously, the new session began, and inauguration occurred, on March 4th), can the new Congress send bills to the outgoing President to sign before January 20th?

1 Answer 1


Yes, the new Congress can send bills to the President which he/she can sign into law. See Presidential Transitions

The President’s authority to exercise power begins immediately upon being sworn into office and continues until he is no longer the officeholder. By the same token, while congressional oversight of the executive branch is continuous, some activities may take on special significance at the end or beginning of an Administration.

In addition from Wikipedia:

A term of Congress is divided into two "sessions", one for each year; Congress has occasionally also been called into an extra, (or special) session (the Constitution requires Congress to meet at least once each year). A new session commences on January 3 (or another date, if Congress so chooses) each year.

So conceivably the new Congress once in session could pass a bill to be signed by a lame-duck President into law.

  • 1
    Has it ever happened?
    – Kha
    Dec 31, 2016 at 22:34
  • 1
    It seems like it could be a temporary loophole to get around divided government in certain (rare) circumstances, such as outgoing president of party A while the outgoing congress has a majority with party B (both Senate and House), and the election has flipped things so that the incoming president is party B and the incoming congress has a majority with party A (both Senate and House). In the short 17-day overlap, party A could theoretically ram a lot of stuff through, despite the past and current election results dictating divided government.
    – Kha
    Dec 31, 2016 at 22:52
  • @Kha Exceptionally rare circumstances. This requires government to be divided before and after the election and for the division to switch. If not divided before, then they could just pass laws in the old congressional session. If not divided after (the current situation), they could just wait until the new session. Also, presidential elections usually make government less divided, not more. It's the midterm elections (1954, 1994, 2006, 2010), where the presidential party loses. Also, historically the 60-vote requirement in the Senate has kept small majorities from having that power.
    – Brythan
    Jan 1, 2017 at 10:29

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