With notable lack of enthusiasm, the lame-duck 81st Congress limped back into Washington this week for one final fling at the legislative process. Only about 250 House members showed up, and a full 25 Senators were absent from the first roll call.

Alben Barkley, with a stuffy nose and a racking cough, presided over the Senate in the old Supreme Court chamber* where there is barely room to swing a cat. Occasionally, he tapped for order with the tiny blob of ivory that serves as his gavel.

On hand were many familiar faces, some soon to be seen around the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!