When will the new Congress convene for the first time?

The anticipated Republican red wave did not occur during Tuesday night’s midterm elections, with several races still counting ballots before the 118th United States Congress can convene.

The Arizona and Nevada Senate races are still too close to call, according to the Fox News Decision Desk. Moreover, the Georgia Senate race between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will go to a runoff, because neither candidate reached the 50% threshold.

The runoff will be held four weeks after the general election on December 6, 2022.

The Nevada, Arizona and Georgia Senate races will likely determine which party holds a majority in the upper chamber once the new Congress convenes. In the 117th Congress, Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. Democrats also control the House with a net majority of five seats under the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

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The 118th Congress will convene for the first time at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on January 3, 2023.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

If the majority changes hands in the new Congress, the current minority leaders in the two legislative chambers will likely take the positions of majority leader in the Senate and speaker of the House. If, however, Democrats retain a majority in both or one chamber, the current leadership will likely stay in place.

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When all the votes have been counted, and the runoff in Georgia is complete, the 118th Congress will convene for the first time on January 3, 2023, at noon. The Constitution mandates that each new Congress begin three days into the New Year.

However, before the passage of the Twentieth Amendment in 1933, Congress would typically convene for the first time on March 4th. The current date can only be changed if the preceding Congress designates a different date.

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In the Senate, the convening of a new Congress starts with a prayer and recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance before each Senator-elect takes their oath of office.