The election happened, and now the establishment would like you to forget about it. Focus on 2017, they say. Focus on the inauguration, they say. Why? Because it’s lame-duck season in Washington and they’d like to pass major legislation without voters noticing.

By “lame duck,” we mean the time between Election Day and the new year (nearly two months!) when legislators return to Congress and vote.

That’s right, retiring and recently voted-out-of-office legislators are allowed to make decisions on behalf of constituents they won’t represent come Jan. 3. If their decisions aren’t motivated by the impending threat of re-election, the likelihood they’ll seek the best interest of their constituents is reduced.


This lame-duck session is especially worrisome as President Barack Obama and Democrats seek to preserve his legacy. It’s their last chance to act on promises made.

Sure, the title is weird and most people don’t pay attention whenever pundits and policy wonks start talking about it. But you can change that. Here’s how to bring attention to, and articulate, the dangers of a lame-duck session.

Common Ground

The Daily Signal released a three-minute video back in September that explains the threat of the next two months. Turns out, “80 percent of people agree that Congress should take care of its mandatory, must-pass legislation before the lame duck while they’re still accountable to the American people.”

The majority of Americans who understand what a lame duck is, don’t approve. That’s a great and encouraging place to start. But it’s also good to further explain why the lame duck is bad practice.

First, it’s not serving its original intent. The lame duck was meant to be a time when legislators would vote on important issues and emergencies that couldn’t wait until the new Congress. It seems this definition has been expanded to include important issues and emergencies that will greatly benefit the party on its way out.

Second, it’s bad precedent to allow retiring, recently elected, or recently voted-out-of-office legislators to vote on major legislation between Election Day and the new Congress.

Those retiring no longer have to answer to voters; those who lost also no longer have to answer to voters, and are seeking new work maybe on Wall Street or K Street, which could influence how they vote; and those recently elected won’t have to answer to voters for two or six years, so the re-election threat is minimal.

All of these factors make it far less likely that legislators will seek the best interest of their constituents when voting—because they don’t have to.


As always, it’s not enough to just tell someone why lame duck is harmful. You also have to show why it’s harmful.

The Heritage Foundation produced a great piece titled “The Implications of Regular Lame-Duck Sessions in Congress for Representative Government.” In it, the past lame-duck sessions are outlined as well as what we can expect in the next two months.

It’s increasingly evident that this time between Election Day and the new Congress has become a preferred space for both parties to introduce controversial legislation and political appointees for passage and approval.

And because Congress failed to check every item off its to-do list BEFORE the November elections, the 2016 lame-duck session will be no different.

Actions that could take place in the next couple months include the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (something Obama really, really wants), an internet sales tax, confirmation of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, allocation of more money to Planned Parenthood, and bailing out private insurer programs crumbling under Obamacare.

Major decisions that will be made by several representatives no longer answerable to their constituents.

No, thank you. Let’s let the newly elected decide what their constituents want in reference to such controversial legislation. It only seems fair.


You likely won’t hear liberals use many words in anticipation of, or in the midst of, a lame-duck session—let alone even call it a “lame-duck session.” Why? Because they want to make major policy decisions without you noticing.

So, this week, the “words” you should use are simple—SIMPLY SPEAK UP about the dangers of a lame-duck session by starting with common ground and then pivoting to examples to make your argument.

It’s up to all of us to make sure that Capitol Hill knows Americans think legislation should be dealt with when voters have a say.