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Historical Highlights

A Rare Christmas Eve Session

December 24, 1963
A Rare Christmas Eve Session Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
J.J. (Jake) Pickle of Texas served 31 years in the House before retiring in 1995.
On this date, the House of Representatives capped off one of the longest continuous sessions in congressional history on the eve of a national holiday. The pre-dawn, Christmas Eve proceedings, which included the swearing in of newly elected Congressman J.J. (Jake) Pickle of Texas, focused on a foreign aid bill with an amendment to authorize wheat sales to the Soviet Union. Due to a series of complex parliamentary procedures required to bring the controversial legislation to the House Floor, many Members, already back home for the holidays, were summoned back to the Capitol by House Democratic Leaders. To boost morale and to thank supporters of the measure–many of whom faced inclement weather returning to Washington, D.C.–President Lyndon Johnson threw an impromptu White House Christmas party. Echoing the frustration felt by some Members concerning the extraordinary holiday proceedings, Congresswoman Katharine St. George of New York urged her colleagues to enter their remarks into the Congressional Record, rather than extend the debate on the House Floor. “Future generations yet unborn will be able to see them,” she commented. “But those of us who are here on this Christmas Eve need not listen to them.” The 88th Congress (1963–1965) eventually adjourned the session on December 30, 1963.

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