To me, one of the many mysteries about our federal government has always been this concept of a ‘lame duck’ Congress. I can understand transition time for the President, being elected in early November, and assuming office in mid-January. Especially now, with the gargantuan size of the Executive branch, it takes awhile to move in and attempt to populate the place with your own folks.
As for Congress, not so much. Just this past year, we’ve seen Senators sworn in on fairly short notice, and while they’re performance might not win any standing ovations, at least some didn’t fall flat on their faces. It would seem even easier for a Congressman, at least to me.
A tad of research reveals the culprit, sections 1 & 2 of the 20th Amendment, setting the date of the new Congress at January 3rd. Amending the Constitution isn’t a trivial matter, but I think this one needs some attention.
Really, aside from the logistics, how hard would it be to have the new Congress sworn in on November 15th or 20th? If the ‘old’ Congress knew their number was up right at or immediately after the election, perhaps they’d get their work done on time, and not let the tough issues drift into the lame duck session, where loose cannons can abound.
People change jobs all the time; our society is pretty familiar with the phenomenon today. Few folks, other than Congress-critters, anticipate nailing a job that will carry them all the way to the gold watch retirement banquet. Why do we need 60 days to switch out Congressmen and Senators, aside from the fact they blow town early to campaign, without finishing the business they were hired to do in the first place?
I realize the electoral winds won’t always blow in our favor, that someday we’ll probably face a blue wave election, but that still doesn’t justify this lame duck nonsense. Out with the old, in with the new and just get on with it! I mean really, how many businesses allow a discharged employee to hang around working for 2 months after he’s received the pink slip?