Commemorative Days, Weeks, and Months: Background and Current Practice [March 25, 2016] [open pdf - 775KB]
From the Summary: "Typically, each Congress, hundreds of legislative measures are introduced to recognize, support, honor, or acknowledge certain days, weeks, and months. Some scholars have observed that commemorative legislation has universal and patriotic appeal and also provides an opportunity to connect directly with constituents, which can help fulfill representational responsibilities to Members' district or state. Often used to commemorate an individual, group, or event, these measures can be divided into three categories: (1) federal holidays; (2) patriotic and national observances; and (3) recognition of a specific day, week, or month that commemorates a specific individual, group, or event. To create either a federal holiday or a patriotic or national observance, a law is required. Action to recognize, support, honor, or acknowledge certain days, weeks, and months, however, requires only a simple resolution agreed to by the House or Senate, or a concurrent resolution agreed to by both chambers. While historically common for Congress to recognize a day, week, or month, this practice has become rarer in the House since the adoption of House Rule XII, clause 5, in the 104th Congress (1995-1996). Since that time, the number of commemorative resolutions introduced and considered in the House has declined. This rule, however, does not apply to the Senate, where date-specific commemorative legislation is still introduced and considered. The House did not consider any of these measures, while the Senate agreed to 193 of 233 (83%)."
CRS Report for Congress, R44431
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html