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Part Time Congress

It seems the House will only be in session for 97 days this year:

WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives is on track this year to be in session for fewer days than the Congress Harry Truman labeled as "do-nothing" during his 1948 re-election campaign.


Members of Congress are taking an entire week off for St. Patrick's Day. It's the latest scheduling innovation to give members more time to meet with constituents.

Through Friday, the House was in session for 19 days, compared with 33 for the Senate. If they stick to their current schedule -- including two weeks off in April, a week in May and July, plus all of August -- House members will spend 97 days in Washington this year.

The House was in session 108 days in 1948, according to the chamber's archives, compared with 141 days last year...

...Lawmakers will make $165,200 this year. Leaders earn more.

So, how do you think your employer react if you said you wanted to work only 97 days this year but still receive a full year's salary?

Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute sees real problems with Congress working on a part time basis:

Mention the part-time nature of this Congress to many people, and the reaction is, "Good, the less time they're in session, the less the danger to the country." Wrong. Congress does not do less -- it has its full impact on society -- it just does things in a shoddier way.


A part-time Congress in a country with a $13 trillion economy and federal budget near $3 trillion, in a globalized, technologically sophisticated world, is itself a danger to the checks and balances built into American democracy, and to high-quality, careful policymaking and oversight. It's not too much to ask Congress to commit to spending at least half the year -- 26 weeks -- working full-time, five days a week, thus providing at least a measure of the deliberation and attention to detail that are so lacking now.

This explains quite a bit.


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Comments (10)

In the first place, there i... (Below threshold)
kevino:

In the first place, there is more to their job than actually being in session. In particular, if Congress spends less time in Washington and more time in their home districts listening, we'd be better off.

Secondly, if they are spending less time writing new laws, we're all better off.

A month-long session every ... (Below threshold)

A month-long session every two years would be more than enough. And I'd gladly pay them more to meet less.

Look at the bright side, if... (Below threshold)

Look at the bright side, if they are not in session they are not spending money or making stupid laws.

I agree with Tom Anger, if they do less I would be happy to pay them more.

I agree with the other comm... (Below threshold)
docjim505:

I agree with the other commenters here who have suggested that the country is better off when Congress spends less time in session. As for Norman Ornstein's fear that "Congress does not do less -- it has its full impact on society -- it just does things in a shoddier way", I have to wonder if it is POSSIBLE for Congress to do a shoddier job?

Cut them down to 30 days an... (Below threshold)
RFYoung:

Cut them down to 30 days and only every other year.

Anyone who thinks goverment can help them is either sucking from the trough of buying bridges in Brooklyn.

Yeah there are way more imp... (Below threshold)
virgo:

Yeah there are way more important things to do besides your job when you vote yourself more money ..like Golf , visiting with lobbyists, going to casinos ,making money speaking..all kinds of important stuff..

"No man's life, liberty, or... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

"No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session."

--Mark Twain.

J.

What amazes me is that in a... (Below threshold)
jc:

What amazes me is that in a congress that has so much time off it's not uncommon when congress *is* in session for a certain member of congress to call for filibusters from a ski resort in the swiss alps or something like that.

I think that being a member... (Below threshold)
Dave:

I think that being a member of Congress should not be a full time job. I would much prefer a shorter session and a smaller salary, though if I had to pick only one of those, a shorter session would be my choice.

I also think that every bill introduced should be required to state its tie to the Constitution - that would force Congress to actually state where in that document they get the permission to do whatever the law does.

It might be worth mentionin... (Below threshold)
John S:

It might be worth mentioning that even for those few weeks Congress is in, they do no real work on Mondays or Fridays due to members flying in and out of the city to their home districts. What a life. $165K a year, work 3 days a week, less than half the year.




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