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Not-so lame ducks: Five major votes from lame-duck sessions


  1. The name "lame-duck session" doesn't exactly inspire confidence that Congress will be productive in the time between the election and the next inauguration. But over the years, lawmakers have held some crucial votes during lame-duck sessions. 
  2. Sometimes that's because important work has been pushed off earlier in the year due to the elections. Other times it's because members of Congress are worried about the incoming president. And other times it's because lawmakers feel less pressure after the elections and can focus on getting work done. 
  3. Here are five major things Congress has done during a lame-duck session:
  4. 1954: Censuring Joseph McCarthy

  5. Sen. Joe McCarthy raises his hand as he is sworn in as a witness on May 5, 1954.  (AP Photo)
  6. During the 1954 lame-duck session, the Senate voted to censure Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) for his behavior during investigations into communism in the U.S. government. 
  7. 1974: Confirming Nelson Rockefeller as vice president

  8. President Gerald Ford meets with Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. (Bettmann/Corbis/AP)
  9. Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in 1973 after being charged with bribery. The following year, President Gerald Ford nominated Nelson Rockefeller to replace him and the Senate confirmed the appointment.
  10. 1980: Creating an environmental cleanup program

  11. An Environmental Protection Agency contractor wears protective gear during the demolition of a contaminated building. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)
  12. Facing a Republican president the next year, the Democratic Congress of the 1980 lame-duck session was unusually productive, passing a major bill to clean up environmentally damaged areas called the Superfund, among other things.
  13. 1998: Impeaching President Clinton

  14. President Bill Clinton after the House of Representatives voted to impeach the president in 1998. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)
  15. During the 1998 lame-duck session, the Republican-led House voted to impeach President Bill Clinton on two counts related to his testimony about an affair with Monica Lewinsky.
  16. 2010: Ending 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'

  17. A protester takes part in a rally on Capitol Hill in Washington supporting efforts to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
  18. During the 2010 lame-duck session, the Senate voted to overturn the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, which prohibited service members from being openly gay, among several other major measures.