December 6, 2006


Culture Shock on Capitol Hill: House to Work 5 Days a Week (Lyndsey Layton, 12/05/06, Washington Post)

Next year, members of the House will be expected in the Capitol for votes each week by 6:30 p.m. Monday and will finish their business about 2 p.m. Friday, Hoyer said.

With the new calendar, the Democrats are trying to project a businesslike image when they take control of Congress in January. House and Senate Democratic leaders have announced an ambitious agenda for their first 100 hours and say they are adamant about scoring legislative victories they can trumpet in the 2008 campaigns.

Hoyer and other Democratic leaders say they are trying to repair the image of Congress, which was so anemic this year it could not meet a basic duty: to approve spending bills that fund government. By the time the gavel comes down on the 109th Congress on Friday, members will have worked a total of 103 days. That's seven days fewer than the infamous "Do-Nothing Congress" of 1948. [...]

For lawmakers within a reasonable commute of Washington, longer weeks are not a burden -- although they are likely to cut into members' fundraising and campaigning activities. But for members from Alaska and Hawaii, the West Coast, or rural states, the new schedule will mean less time at home and more stress.

"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."

Time away from Washington is just as important to being an effective member of Congress as time spent in the Capitol, Kingston added. "When I'm here, people call me Mr. Congressman. When I'm home, people call me 'Jack, you stupid SOB, why did you vote that way?' It keeps me grounded."

Why would Democrats want to face their constituents instead of special interest lobbyists?

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 6, 2006 8:30 AM

Maybe true, but the PR of making the Congress work longer is a boon for the Dems. It is simple stuff like this that the GOP could have enacted to boost their reputation and held the majority.

Posted by: AWW at December 6, 2006 9:13 AM

No, it isn't. When they're in session they're talking on tv, passing more laws, and not home in their districts serving constituents--all negatives

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2006 9:33 AM

No, it isn't. When they're in session they're talking on tv, passing more laws, and not home in their districts serving constituents--all negatives

Your inner libertarian is showing if you believe this, because unfortunately, the rest of the country has bought into the "do something" mentality. (And its cousin, "doing more is better") This is an attempt to placate those people by appearing to "do something". Let's hope it is mostly show, as what Dems do is rarely good.

Besides, why would the Dems care about inconveniencing "rural" representatives who aren't in their party or their constituents who don't vote for them anyhow? And their Californican delegation has non-stop flights practically into their districts.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 6, 2006 9:44 AM

No, they haven't. That's why Democrats ran on a do-nothing platform this year.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2006 10:00 AM

I'm not in favor of Congressmen passing bills just to look like their doing something, but I'm a little shocked that this guy from Georgia is basically working only 2 days per week (from Tuesday afternoon through Thursday morning). I would think that the job of being a Representative is a little more time-consuming than that if you're actually thinking about issues and reading at least the summaries of the bills you're voting for or against.

Posted by: Foos at December 6, 2006 10:03 AM

A human being could not read the federal budget every year and lead a normal life. No one reads the stuff they vote on.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2006 10:08 AM


Your comment reminded me of when I used to fly regularly from Atlanta to D.C. and every Monday morning (at 6:30) I would watch guys in first class drink three Bloody Marys before takeoff. It made me wonder about the state of the nation sometimes.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 6, 2006 11:12 AM

Congress shouldn't meet in DC anymore anyway. Let everyone vote from an office in their home district.

Posted by: b at December 6, 2006 11:52 AM

Congress should be moved to Fallon, Nev. for reasons obvious to anyone who's ever been through there.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at December 6, 2006 2:20 PM