The light in the dome of the Capitol Building

Q: When the light is on/off does that signify something? I can see the light from my apartment, e.g., it was on all night and went out for a while.

The lantern is lit when one or both houses of Congress meet in night session. Although there is not a legal requirement for the night lighting or a record of when the lighting began, it is believed that the practice started in about 1864, when members lived in boardinghouses and hotels near the Capitol.

§ 6.11 The Lantern and Flags,” Congressional Deskbook 2005-2007, by Judy Schneider and Michael L. Koempel (2005).
In an email, Mike Koempel told us: “On Tuesday [December 13, 2005], the House recessed at 5:17 pm until 6:30 pm. The Senate in the meantime adjourned at 6:21 pm. So, there were nine minutes when the lantern would have been doused before the House reconvened and the lantern was re-lit.”

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Congressional Deskbook 2005-2007, by Judy Schneider and Michael L. Koempel . . . . . .

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