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|Release Date:||Revised April 25, 2012|
|Source Agency:||Congressional Research Service|
Since 1973, 84 Members of Congress 69 Representatives, and 15 Senators have died in office. When a sitting Member dies, the House and Senate carry out a number of actions based on chamber rules, statutes, and longstanding practices. Some observances, such as adjourning briefly as a mark of respect to the deceased, appointing Member delegations to attend funerals of deceased colleagues, or paying the costs of a funeral from public funds, were initially observed in the earliest Congresses, or predate the national legislature established under the Constitution. It appears that contemporary congressional response to the death of a sitting Member is affected by a number of external factors including the following: circumstances of the Member s death, preferences of the deceased Member or the Member s family regarding funeral services, whether Congress is in session when the Member dies, pending congressional business at the time of the Member s death, and events external to Congress at the time. Congressional response to the death of a sitting Member could be characterized as a broad set of actions that are determined in detail at or around the time of the death, in response to a wide array of factors. Broadly, these actions fall into five categories, including announcement or acknowledgment on the House or Senate floor; consideration of resolutions of condolence; a funeral or other rites; issues related to the deceased Member s office, staff, and survivor benefits; and publication of memorials. This report, which will be updated as events warrant, is one of several CRS products focusing on various aspects of the operations and administration of Congress and the legislative branch. Others include CRS Report RL30064, Congressional Salaries and Allowances, by Ida A. Brudnick; CRS Report R42072, Legislative Branch Agency Appointments: History, Processes, and Recent Proposals, by Ida A. Brudnick; CRS Report RL34619, Use of the Capitol Rotunda, Capitol Grounds, and Emancipation Hall: Concurrent Resolutions, 101st to 112th Congress, by Matthew Eric Glassman and Jacob R. Straus; and CRS Report R42365, Representatives and Senators: Trends in Member Characteristics Since 1945, coordinated by R. Eric Petersen.