House Releases 2021 Legislative Calendar

December 2, 2020 by Dan McCue
House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol Aug. 13, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON – The first session of the 117th Congress will convene at noon on a Sunday in January and have an extra-long August recess, according to the House calendar released by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Wednesday.

And of course, the chamber will continue its current practice of holding work weeks for committee action when there is no other business on the floor, a measure adopted earlier this year to help lawmakers and their staff cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

As specified in the U.S. Constitution, the House will convene at noon on Jan. 3, which happens to fall on a Sunday.

The next critical day on the calendar is Wednesday, Jan. 6. It is on that day that the House and Senate will hold a joint session to count the electoral college votes.

Assuming nothing changes, President-elect Joe Biden will have 306 electoral votes, far more than the 270 he needs to be declared the next president of the United States, and outgoing Vice President Mike Pence will make the official announcement.

Members will remain on Capitol Hill for the rest of the week before departing until Inauguration Day. All told, there are 101 days planned for votes and another 59 planned for committee activity.

On the first day of each week, votes will occur in the House at 6:30 p.m. The last votes of the week will not occur after 3:00 p.m.

As for the August recess, the plan now is for the House to conclude its business on Friday, July 20, and then for there to be nothing but committee and district work weeks until Monday, Sept. 20 – just 10 days before the end of the fiscal year.

But in unveiling the calendar, Majority Leader Hoyer emphasized that the chamber’s schedule is subject to change, particularly in light of the unknowns associated with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Committee work days may be changed to voting days with sufficient notice. The 2021 schedule seeks to balance voting days, Committee work days, and days for members to conduct important business in their districts,” Hoyer said in a written statement.

Among those applauding the calendar for next year was Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., one of the lead authors of a bipartisan letter earlier this year that championed alternating two weeks of voting with two weeks of committee and district work.

In addition to the other lead authors, Reps. Katie Porter, D-Calif., and Scott Peters, D-Calif., the letter was signed by 59 other members, including the memberships of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, and Republican Rep. William Timmons, of South Carolina.

“Two voting weeks in D.C. followed by two weeks of committee and district work is a schedule that will permit more legislative work days than previous calendars. It also ensures members will have more time to directly serve constituents in their districts as well as actively engage in needed committee work,” Pocan said.

“During this pandemic, it is imperative that the calendar meet the needs of the American people while also adhering to the guidelines of public health experts by allowing virtual work whenever possible. I thank Majority Leader Hoyer for listening to the needs of a broad and diverse caucus and ensuring the House calendar will allow members to serve the needs of their constituents,” he added.

Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the schedule set forth by Hoyer “prioritizes moving legislation through committee and to the floor.”

“This will make it easier for Members to get their bills considered and to deliver on our promises to our constituents,” he said.

The U.S. House of Representatives schedule for calendar year 2021, provided by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, can be viewed here.

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