The trouble with lame-duck sessions began in 1801, when the outgoing Federalists used their last days in power to help appoint a bunch of judges. It flared up again in 1922, when President Warren Harding and the lame-duck Republicans tried to ram through unpopular legislation after their defeats.But Congress follows the letter of the law, and the amendment only changed the date of the end of congressional terms. It's a lot earlier than it was under the original Constitution, but it's still far enough from the elections to give a modern Congress plenty of time to work its will on the American people who may have just decisively rejected them.
Opponents said this was un-democratic: These sessions seemed to violate the ever-popular Washington rule that "elections have consequences." Finally, Congress passed - and the states ratified - the 20th Amendment.
Historians say lawmakers thought they were ending lame-duck Congresses forever.
"This amendment will free Congress of the dead hand of the so-called 'lame duck,' " Rep. Wilburn Cartwright (D-Okla.) said as it was debated in 1932.
With a devastating electoral loss behind them and a 13% approval rating, Congress flouts the intent of the framers and ratifiers of the 20th Amendment.