When does the new Congress start?

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A new Congress session starts every two years on Jan. 3 following either a general or midterm election

However, in 2021 Jan. 3 will fall on a Sunday, when Congress usually avoids holding any meetings. Congress can pass new legislation to change the start date, but none has yet been passed. 

Just as with the presidential inauguration, the first meeting of Congress is set at noon.

On the opening day of a new Congress, the members follow a well-established routine, which includes swearing in new senators, establishing a quorum, adopting standing orders and setting out the timeline for new bills to be considered.

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Should the role be vacant for any reason, the Senate will also vote on a new president pro tempore.

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