Constitution changes swear-in date for Congress

WASHINGTON – This New Year brings with it a new Congress. The 114th Congress will be sworn in on January 6. But according to the U.S. Constitution, that’s three days late. Lawmakers had to break into the constitution and pass a new law in order to make plans for the ceremony.

Here in Washington – sometimes the minutia forces lawmakers to change the rules. In the Constitution, the 20th Amendment states that Congress must be sworn in by January 3rd. But this year – January 3rd lands on a Saturday – when government offices are closed.

That same amendment also allows Congress to change the date if they need to – and that’s exactly what Congress did. Both the House and Senate passed a joint resolution in November– and President Obama signed it into law a few weeks ago.
Vice President Joe Biden will swear in the Senators again – while Speaker John Boehner will give out the happy handshakes in the House of Representatives.

Pushing the official start back gives everyone an extra weekend before the new Congress, and now lawmakers won’t technically be late. The date isn’t the only thing changing this year. Republicans, led by Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, will take over the majority in the Senate.

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