Post-general election meetings of Congress, which have become routine in recent decades, are commonly known as lame-duck sessions. The unflattering descriptor alludes to the senators and representatives who have lost reelection or whose terms are almost up but can still help make laws for a few more weeks.
Lame-duck sessions historically were used to wrap up pending business, and more recently to cut last-minute budget deals. But none in the nearly five decades for which data is available has been as legislatively productive as the lame-duck session of the 116th Congress, which wrapped up on Jan. 3.
More than four-in-ten bills that became law out of the 116th Congress were passed in the final two months of its two-year term. That’s the highest share of lame-duck legislation since at least the 93rd Congress of 1973 to 1974, the first years of our analysis.