22 Historic Facts About the U.S. Congress Few Americans Know

1Pledge of Allegiance

Congress added the “Under God” phrase to the Pledge of Allegiance during the Cold War. This symbolized the resistance to communists, who were atheists.


2Mike Gravel

In 1971, senator Mike Gravel from Alaska read 4,100 pages of the pentagon papers on the floor on Congress and into the Congressional Record to bring to light the lies surrounding the Vietnam War.


3Leo Ryan

Leo Ryan is the only member of US Congress to have ever been killed in the line of duty. He was assassinated while investigating human rights violations at Jonestown.


4Woodrow Wilson

President Woodrow Wilson actually vetoed the Volstead Act, but congress passed it anyway bringing on the beginning of Prohibition.


5Pentagon

In 1990, the U.S. Congress gave the Pentagon until 1997 to pass its first financial audit of the Department of Defense (The CFO Act). Congress has since then continued to extend this deadline for the Pentagon, who has until 2017.


6Ronald Reagan

In 1986, the US Congress passed a bill to impose sanctions against South Africa because of apartheid. Ronald Reagan vetoed it, but Congress overrode his veto. This foreign policy override was the first of its kind in the 20th century.


7Congress baseball game

Every year, the US Congress plays a baseball game against one another: Republicans vs. Democrats. The Republicans have won two more games than the Democrats since the inaugural 1909 game.


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8US Postal Service strike

In 1970, the US Postal Service decided on a strike after a Congressional decision to raise the wages of postal workers by only 4%. At the same time, Congress raised its own pay by 41%.


9Frank Zappa

On September 19, 1985, when Frank Zappa famously testified before Congress to protest the PMRC’s attempt to legislate and censor heavy metal music lyrics, Zappa compared the proposed legislation to “treating dandruff by decapitation.”


10Congressional hearings

In the 1950s, there were so many Congressional hearings on Communists and homosexuals infiltrating the government that one congressman said: “I do not know what homosexuals are, but I never saw anybody get as much free advertising in the Congress of the United States in all my life.”

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