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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