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Some state legislatures have a "drop dead day". After Drop Dead Day, only vetoed bills, or certain appropriations bills are considered. For example, the Kansas legislative calendar says this:

Friday, April 7th (Drop Dead Day)
No bills considered after this date except bills vetoed by governor, omnibus appropriations act and omnibus reconciliations spending limit bill.

Is there an analogues date in the federal legislative session?

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  • Pretty sure the answer here is no. – David says Reinstate Monica Mar 28 '17 at 15:59
  • @DavidGrinberg - I wasn't able to locate a calendar of notable dates in Congress to be sure. If such a thing exists, it would definitely answer the question. – indigochild Mar 28 '17 at 16:55
  • I haven't ever heard of anything like this, so I doubt it exists, but I can't be sure. – Bobson Mar 28 '17 at 16:59
  • @phoog - You are correct, although that was not my intent. I'll make that edit. – indigochild Mar 28 '17 at 20:11
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Kansas

First, let's take a look at why Kansas has a "Drop Dead" day. The Kansas legislature is part time. It typically meets once a year, starting in January and ending in April. The session can be extended but at additional cost. Emergency sessions can also be called by the governor.

If the legislature passes a bill right before the end of the session, the governor can just wait until they go out of session and veto the bill. Then they can't override the veto because they are out of session. The governor could call an emergency session but as a practical matter won't do so.

From Article 2 of the Kansas constitution:

If any bill shall not be returned within ten calendar days (excluding the day presented) after it shall have been presented to the governor, it shall become a law in like manner as if it had been signed by the governor.

The "Drop Dead" day is thus a practical limitation. It's the last day when a bill can be sent to the governor such that the governor has to veto it while the legislature is still in session. The legislature can send bills after that day, but they are subject to a unilateral veto. So they usually will only send bills that they are sure that the governor will sign, e.g. emergency appropriations requested by the governor. Why debate and vote on a bill that will never become law? They can always wait until next year.

Federal

The federal Congress is a full-time legislature. It is in session year round. So there likely are drop dead days, but they are much less significant. And if it's a real problem, they can maintain pro forma sessions such that they are never actually out of session.

The federal Senate schedule for 2016.

We can see by inspection that there are a number of effective "Drop Dead" days when legislation would need to be sent to avoid a pocket veto. However, there are also a number of "Alive Again" days. They don't seem to track either. Presumably if there was an issue, they wouldn't officially adjourn until the ten days were past. The federal Congress has wide latitude to stay in session. The courts have generally held that they are in session when they say that they are.

TL;DR There is no evidence of an official "Drop Dead" day that is tracked as part of the federal legislative schedule. There are only effective days, which are subject to change by congressional fiat.

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  • Nice answer! Since you bring it up, it might be worth mentioning the effective Drop Dead date at the end of a Congressional session, before they adjourn so that the new Congress can take over. Unless that specifically doesn't trigger pocket vetos if they do it "fast enough". – Bobson Mar 28 '17 at 17:52

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