Wikipedia talk:WikiProject U.S. Congress

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WikiProject U.S. Congress (Rated Project-class)
WikiProject iconThis page is within the scope of WikiProject U.S. Congress, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of the United States Congress on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
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109th United States Congress[edit]

I have nominated 109th United States Congress for featured list removal here. Please join the discussion on whether this article meets the featured list criteria. Articles are typically reviewed for two weeks; editors may declare to "Keep" or "Delist" the article's featured status. The instructions for the review process are here.

Official beginning & end of terms for members of Congress[edit]

This is a broad topic, so let's try to cover it concisely. There are several issues.

Before the 20th Amendment[edit]

Before the 20th Amendment, there was no constitutional date of their terms, other than the length. As the 1st Congress began on March 4, 1789, all terms are either two years or six years from that date. Terms therefore began on March 4th at midnight (beginning of the day) and the previous term ended at that same time, but it's usually called March 3rd midnight (end of the day). Hence all the so-called "Midnight" actions like legislation and appointments.

There has been some (mostly settled) debate on Wikipedia about whether March 4 or March 3 is what we should call the end date, even though there's no real dispute about the moment the term ended (midnight on the transition between March 3 & 4), just what to call it. External sources, while required by WP rules, have been wildly inconsistent.

This all changed when the 20th Amendment, Section 1 set a constitutional date & time of January 3 at noon: "Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin."

Appointed Senators[edit]

The term of an appointed Senator begins when she/he is appointed and qualified.

First, let's cover the qualifications. To be a Senator, one must be at last 30 years old, a citizen for 9 years, and a resident of their elective state. (see Article One of the United States Constitution#Clause 3: Qualifications of Senators.). That's not so tricky. The tricky part is when that appointee has a conflicting job. Often appointees are already elected or appointed officials in local, state, or federal government.

What if an appointee has a conflicting position?[edit]

It's not unusual for a Member of the U.S. House to be appointed to the U.S. Senate. He/she must resign from the House before the Senate term begins as he/she cannot hold both offices simultaneously.[citation needed]. Is my assumption correct?

But what about state officers? Luther Strange, the Attorney General of Alabama, was appointed to replace Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate in February 2017. Did Strange have to resign his state office before his term could begin?

In most, if not all, cases, such people do resign before taking the oath and acting in the new job.

Furthermore, in some cases, a newly-elected or appointed Senator has chosen to delay "taking their seat" so they could continue in their state position a little longer. See, e.g., Huey Long. Does that mean that his Senate term did not begin, or that he simultaneously held both jobs even though he wasn't acting like it?

Oath vs. election vs. appointment[edit]

Does the oath of office matter or the appointment/election or the qualification?

Conflicting statutes[edit]

Some statutes conflict with others. For example, some say "oath" some say "election."

Senators and Representatives elected in a special election[edit]

[Data unknown/missing.]


Article One of the United States Constitution


2 U.S.C. § 21 "Oath of Senators"

The oath of office shall be administered by the President of the Senate to each Senator who shall be elected, previous to his taking his seat.

2 U.S.C. § 25 "Oath of Speaker, Members, and Delegates"

At the first session of Congress after every general election of Representatives, the oath of office shall be administered by any Member of the House of Representatives to the Speaker; and by the Speaker to all the Members and Delegates present, and to the Clerk, previous to entering on any other business; and to the Members and Delegates who afterward appear, previous to their taking their seats. …


2 U.S.C. ch. 53, subch. I "MEMBER PAY"
2 U.S.C. § 5302 "Salaries payable monthly after taking oath"

Each Member and Delegate, after he has taken and subscribed the required oath, is entitled to receive his salary at the end of each month.

2 U.S.C. § 5304 "Salaries of Representatives, Delegates, and Resident Commissioners elected for unexpired terms":

The salaries of Representatives in Congress, Delegates from Territories, and Resident Commissioners, elected for unexpired terms, shall commence on the date of their election and not before.

2 U.S.C. ch. 63 "SENATE MEMBERS"

2 U.S.C. ch. 63, subch. I "MEMBER PAY"
2 U.S.C. § 6301 "Senators’ salaries"

Senators elected, whose term of office begins on the 3d day of January, and whose credentials in due form of law shall have been presented in the Senate, may receive their compensation from the beginning of their term.

2 U.S.C. § 6302 "Salaries of Senators"

Salaries of Senators appointed to fill vacancies in the Senate shall commence on the day of their appointment and continue until their successors are elected and qualified: Provided, That when Senators have been elected during a sine die adjournment of the Senate to succeed appointees, the salaries of Senators so elected shall commence on the day following their election.

Discussion at Talk:Democratic–Republican Party#Hyphen or Dash?[edit]

You are invited to join the discussion at Talk:Democratic–Republican Party#Hyphen or Dash?. —GoldRingChip 13:04, 18 October 2017 (UTC)

Disambiguation links on pages tagged by this wikiproject[edit]

Wikipedia has many thousands of wikilinks which point to disambiguation pages. It would be useful to readers if these links directed them to the specific pages of interest, rather than making them search through a list. Members of WikiProject Disambiguation have been working on this and the total number is now below 20,000 for the first time. Some of these links require specialist knowledge of the topics concerned and therefore it would be great if you could help in your area of expertise.

A list of the relevant links on pages which fall within the remit of this wikiproject can be found at

Please take a few minutes to help make these more useful to our readers.— Rod talk 19:46, 3 December 2017 (UTC)

List of senators style/layout[edit]

This got brought to my attention with the peer review of List of United States Senators from Ohio, but judging by other states articles this is broadly applicable. In short: the layout of these pages, creating side-by-side lists via senator classes, is pretty terrible from a usability and readability standpoint (on a PC, it's just annoying; on mobile, it becomes actively harmful). These really should be interleaved, especially as I highly doubt the class of senator is the most important part of the topic. I can't tell exactly where this style was chosen, but I'd strongly recommend coming up with another one. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 18:54, 6 December 2017 (UTC)

  • They style wasn't formally chosen, it evolved over time and I moved to make them consistent among the 50 articles. I would welcome, however, a redesign. Can you draft something at, maybe, Draft:List of United States Senators from Ohio, and we can comment, edit, tweak, etc.?—GoldRingChip 13:56, 7 December 2017 (UTC)


This is strictly a style/formatting issue.

It has come to my attention at MOS:JOBTITLES and WP:TITLEFORMAT, that "Senators" and "Representatives" should be in lower case, not capitals.

Capitals should be retained followed by a person's name or for the institution. Otherwise, lower case.

Correct: "List of United States senators from Ohio" / Incorrect: "List of United States Senators from Ohio"
Correct: "U.S. senators were elected." / Incorrect: "U.S. Senators were elected."
Correct: "Markey has been a senator since 2013." / Incorrect: "Markey has been a Senator since 2013."
Correct: "Senator Smith" / Incorrect: "senator Smith"
Correct: "U.S. Senate" / Incorrect: "U.S. senate"

Over the years, the capitals have spread around extensively, so now I predict there are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles with the incorrect capital in the body and their article titles.

Just because it's widespread and common, doesn't mean it's correct.

Am I missing something?

I would be willing to begin changing these capitals to lower case (which would also mean moving articles and modifying templates) but I would prefer to have some consensus.

I welcome your comments.—GoldRingChip 12:46, 15 May 2018 (UTC)

PLEASE read MOS:JOBTITLES and WP:TITLEFORMAT before commenting here.

Comment: It depends on context. "United States Senator" is a proper noun. The S should be capitalized in that instance. JTRH (talk) 13:10, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
  • No, "United States Senator" is not a proper noun and it should not be capitalized unless used as an honorific. Job titles are NOT proper nouns, although their importance to organizations and individuals often persuade such groups and individuals to exaggerate their own importance and capitalize said job titles. See the CMOS, easily found on-line. GenQuest "Talk to Me"
The New York Times apparently disagrees,[1][2][3] as do I. I lack the time to find more authoritative sources, but I've already presented more than you have (perhaps we can agree that saying something is a proper noun doesn't make it one). ―Mandruss  13:42, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
Wikipedia does not copy its capitalization rules from the NYTimes. Shouldn't MOS:JOBTITLES and WP:TITLEFORMAT decide?? — Preceding unsigned comment added by GoldRingChip (talkcontribs) 15:18, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
Even other news publishers do not copy the NYT, which is notoriously divergent even from others in the same genre. If they did all scrap the AP Stylebook, UPI Stylebook, The Canadian Press Stylebook, and other multi-publisher, consensus-based [real-world, market-driven consensus, not WP consensus], WP still wouldn't care, because WP is not written in news style, as a matter of policy.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:20, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
From past conversations it's my understanding that you are in agreement with the current guidance, as am I, so I have no idea why you've chosen me as one of the targets of your combative and superior tone. ―Mandruss  12:27, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
Generally, Wikipedia's style guidelines are supposed to be based on authoritative/expert sources, not on editors' personal opinions. I don't have access to any of the professional style guides, so I settled for consistent examples from arguably the most respected newspaper in the world, who base their manual of style on professional style guides. Anyway, the Times agrees with the above examples you provided (spelling out United States doesn't change it from common noun to proper), so I don't see the problem there.
Regardless, per Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines, "Whether a policy or guideline is an accurate description of best practice is determined by the community through consensus." I don't know whether a clear community consensus exists as to this issue, so you would need to either find one in the archives or seek one via RfC at a relevant MOS talk page or WP:VPP. But this is the wrong place to seek such a consensus. ―Mandruss  17:35, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
See above, and we've been over this before, many times. WP is not written in news style, and NYT doesn't set news style even if WP cared; NYT sets NYT style, which is markedly different from usual news style as a marketing technique. It gets tedious having to repeat all this about 20x per year when you or another MoS critic are grinding your teeth yet again because we're not writing WP like the newspaper you like the most. It's like being angry that The Walking Dead doesn't have the same visual style as Scooby-Doo. It's a different genre communicating something different to a different audience. Please absorb this. I think I also detect a strong whiff in the air of the tired old fallacy that "If only I can show that the style variance I like best is the most common, then WP will have to do it my way per WP:COMMONNAME", when we all know by now that COMMONNAME is not a style policy and has nothing to do with style, but what the underlying name is (whether we apply, per MoS, any particular style to it or not).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:20, 23 May 2018 (UTC)
"U.S. Senator" or "U.S. Representative" is correct because it is a job title. Also Correct: "List of United States Senators from Ohio" and Correct: "U.S. Senators were elected.". WhatsUpWorld (talk) 18:13, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
That seems to contradict MOS:JOBTITLES, which gives as an example "Controversial US president, Richard Nixon, resigned.". I don't know why US Senator/senator would be any different. meamemg (talk) 18:18, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
That's what I was thinking, too.—GoldRingChip 19:50, 17 May 2018 (UTC)
As long as we have consistency across the articles, I'm fine with any solution. FWIW, we need some consistency on many bios of governors & lieutenant governors. GoodDay (talk) 19:04, 15 May 2018 (UTC)
  • Yes, you are missing something. It is not the case that "over the years, capitals have spread around". Rather, the convention has shifted in the other direction. About two generations ago, these words were routinely capitalized [in such a context] by almost everyone. Then the capitalization started to be dropped as superfluous, pretentious, and inconsistent with most of the rest of English usage, just as such over-capping has been dropped in English for various other things. This shift started in academic writing, then spread to journalism (with some divergence - there are a few publishers who rampantly overcapitalize and do other old-fashioned things, including The New York Times and The New Yorker; it's part of their brand marketing, and doesn't reflect English usage norms, or even the norms of the journalistic register, which for American publications you'll find in the AP Stylebook. Aside from a few news publishers, the last holdouts for over-capitalizing these words are legal and business publications, which also tend to do it to commercial job titles, market sectors, and many other things.

    MoS is following the lower-casing trend (see Chicago Manual of Style, New Hart's Rules, etc.), not inventing it. Because the people who grew up capitalizing these things (like me and everyone else in my age bracket) aren't all dead yet, and haven't all broken old style habits yet, some people still insert capitals where MoS (and almost all other style guides) would have them not do so. It is not an emergency, or a sea change, or a rule deficiency; it's simply another MoS divergence to quietly clean up and move on from.
     — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  23:09, 23 May 2018 (UTC)

WikiProject collaboration notice from the Portals WikiProject[edit]

The reason I am contacting you is because there are one or more portals that fall under this subject, and the Portals WikiProject is currently undertaking a major drive to automate portals that may affect them.

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On April 8th, 2018, an RfC ("Request for comment") proposal was made to eliminate all portals and the portal namespace. On April 17th, the Portals WikiProject was rebooted to handle the revitalization of the portal system. On May 12th, the RfC was closed with the result to keep portals, by a margin of about 2 to 1 in favor of keeping portals.

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Thank you.    — The Transhumanist   11:02, 31 May 2018 (UTC)

Michael Cloud[edit]

Michael Cloud won a special election in June and was sworn into office on July, 10, 2018. The infobox notation said not to change his office date as the sworn in date, but elected and qualified date. I've searched the templates trying to find the editing guidelines on this. Any info would help. P37307 (talk) 16:02, 13 July 2018 (UTC)

  • Thank you for bringing this to a wider editor's review. The Texas Tribune article correctly states his oath, first vote, and an inaugural speech. It incorrectly states that he "officially became the newest member of Texas' congressional delegation Tuesday evening." This issue has been addressed many times here, however unconvincingly. See, e.g., the results of this search. It's unconvincing becuase we haven't found a 100% iron-clad hard-and-fast authority stating that a new member starts a term once elected + certified + qualified. What's more, even though most authorities seem to imply this position, there are occasional authorities that seem to contradict it.—GoldRingChip 16:10, 13 July 2018 (UTC)
    • The membership list of the Clerk of the House includes the official, definitive start date for each member's service. JTRH (talk) 18:06, 19 July 2018 (UTC)

Chronological order of polls[edit]

Why should polls be in reverse order when everything else in an article is in correct order? Should we reverse other parts of an article just because the later history is more current? If the election were from the 1960s, would it be ok to have it in correct order now in 2018? WP is not an election data source. Wikipedia is not an aggregator. It is an encyclopedia for historical reference. It is not a news website,,,, or any other such thing. It is a historical reference… even if the history is current. If, as some might say, one has the ability to set up a sortable table, then shouldn't that table initially be in correct order and allow the reader to reverse it on demand? I welcome a broad discussion; thanks!—GoldRingChip 12:33, 19 July 2018 (UTC)

The historical record (FiveThirtyEight, RCP, and Pollster) is in reverse chronological order. I see no reason that Wikipedia should differ at this point and use the opposite. Sortable tables are possible, but because of the specification of date ranges within the columns, are tedious to set up. Mélencron (talk) 12:42, 19 July 2018 (UTC)
Congressional infobox terms are also in reverse chronological order. Not making any judgements, just sharing current status....Pvmoutside (talk) 13:20, 19 July 2018 (UTC)
The "historical record" sites are meant to show snapshots in time, highlight the present. We are an encyclopedia. We're meant to cover the whole thing from start to finish in a different way than polling sites like 538, RCP, etc. – Muboshgu (talk) 13:44, 19 July 2018 (UTC)

RfC at Talk:Martha McSally[edit]

There is a RfC at the Martha McSally talk page found here that members of this project might be interested in taking part in. -- ψλ 01:48, 5 August 2018 (UTC)

Proposed change to election/referendum naming format[edit]

I've started an RfC on changing the election/referendum naming format to move the year to the front (so e.g. French presidential election, 2017 becomes 2017 French presidential election). All comments welcome here. Cheers, Number 57 20:46, 6 September 2018 (UTC)

RfC on Ron DeSantis "monkey" quote[edit]

There is an RfC at the Ron DeSantis talk page found here that members of this project might interested in taking part in. -- ψλ 16:13, 9 September 2018 (UTC)

Disambiguation form and capitalization[edit]

The issues raised in Talk:Dan Sullivan (American senator)#Requested move 8 September 2018 may be of interest.    Roman Spinner (talkcontribs) 02:16, 12 September 2018 (UTC)

Capitalization of committee names[edit]

I've been reading pages about US congressional committees as well as international committees and committees of other nations and I've found that the capitalization of the word committee in particular is highly inconsistent. There are some obvious examples where the word should be capitalized, such as the NPCSC where the term "Standing Committee" is part of an official and established title. Similarly, the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee is a committee with an established official title. However, there are many instances of committee being capitalized on its own. For example, in the "In the 20th century" section of this article the word committee alone is capitalized a couple times. Additionally, the "See also" section on standing committees and often times in pieces of the article that are not part of the main body of text there will be variations on the capitalization of the word committee, such as the image description found on the image in the Standing committees section of the US congressional committee article. This is just to name a few, but since these inconsistencies tend to appear in portions of articles such as "See also" sections and other miscellaneous portions of articles, I was wondering if there is a capitalization rule I can cite to fix these instances when I see them.

It seems clear to me that "committee" must be capitalized only when referring to a specifically named committee (or other obvious places where general capitalization rules apply, such as the beginning of a sentence). I just don't want to make a bunch of edits that wind up being against the MOS since I don't edit that often and this isn't my area of expertise. Thanks in advance for any feedback! Penitence (talk) 16:48, 14 October 2018 (UTC)

  • Thank you for considering this issue. I suggest avoiding overcapitalization, which is a constant problem in congressional articles. Do the best you can to change them, Be Bold! —GoldRingChip 15:34, 15 October 2018 (UTC)