U.S. Congress could come to Philly in 2026 for a commemorative session

Sessions outside of Washington, D.C. are rare. There have only been two since the Capitol moved there from Philadelphia in 1800.

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Brendan Boyle speaks at a podium

From left to right, Kathryn Ott Lovell, Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Congressman Brendan Boyle and William Marrazzo of the Independence Historic Trust. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

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U.S. Congressman Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.) believes he can unite Congress on one thing: coming to Philadelphia for a party in 2026.

Boyle wants to hold a commemorative joint session of Congress at Independence Hall on July 2, 2026, to mark the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The Philly Democrat introduced the legislation on Independence Mall on Monday.

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Sessions outside of Washington, D.C. are rare. There have only been two since the Capitol moved there from Philadelphia in 1800. The last was on Sept. 11, 2002, when lawmakers gathered at Federal Hall in New York City to honor victims of the terror attack a year prior. The other was at Independence Hall in 1987 as part of the bicentennial celebration.

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D., Pa.) is also behind the 2026 effort.

“We would [be] so delighted to have our colleagues return here to steep themselves in our history and the values, and the sheer magnificence of the founding values of our country,” Scanlon said.

Independence Historic Trust Executive Director Bill Marrazzo, who is also CEO and president of WHYY, said the nonprofit was honored by the proposal.

“Of course, in our judgment, Philadelphia is no less than natural to host such a meeting in 2026,” Marrazzo said. “It was in the 1700s when the founders of our nation selected Philadelphia for a series of meetings, including one in 1774 at Carpenters’ Hall, which began to build the infrastructure that holds up what is now the United States of America.”

Congressman Boyle said he felt there was enough bipartisan support for a road trip to Philadelphia, adding that after the session he hopes Congress would be “more committed than ever to preserving our democracy.”

“Through this special meeting of Congress, we will ensure that the eyes of the nation — indeed, the eyes of the world — will be on Philadelphia as we celebrate America’s 250th birthday,” Boyle said.

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Kathryn Ott Lovell, who heads up the Independence Visitors Center, is all for it.

“This is … a phenomenal opportunity to bring leaders here to experience our city. This was the reason that this park exists,” Lovell said.

Philadelphia plans to mark America’s 250th birthday in 2026 in a big way. Events already announced include the FIFA World Cup, the PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club and the NCAA’s Men’s March Madness basketball tournament.

“We are going to have an epic celebration in 2026. We will be ready. We are going to show Philadelphia and visitors from near and far a celebration that they have never before seen or experienced,” Lowell said.

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