The 113th Congress will leave for a five-week-long recess today. They’re exhausted. They’re overworked and must go on vacation.
There was nothing important for them to do, and they haven’t done anything worth mentioning, so why not take some well-deserved time off?
The budget can wait. Immigration reform is dying in the House anyway. Violations of the Constitution created by the PRISM program matter to the American people, but congress supports the criminal actions created by it.
Before we breakdown the actual number of hours spent representing the American public, let’s take an honest look at congress’ priorities, and how and why their time is precious to them.
First, we must face the fact that congress doesn’t care about the future or prosperity of the United States. They are concerned with their own states, and the people that re-elect them.
The 113th Congress failed to pass several pieces of legislation favored by a majority of Americans. The reasons given were mostly fallacious. The truth is that if you represent Texas, a gun worshipping state, and would have voted for more extensive background checks of gun purchasers, the people of Texas would ensure your re-election efforts were unsuccessful. The issues that are important to the majority of Americans are not a concern for congressmen. They represent their states, not the United States.
What has congress accomplished? It did stop the rise in student loan rates, temporarily, but on the same day it failed to pass a major transportation and housing bill. It failed because the majority of Republicans have vowed to their supporters and lobbyists that they will not authorize any domestic government spending. (But funding wars is okay.)
Republicans in the House wasted more time attempting its 40th attack on Obamacare, wasting more of the taxpayer’s time and money.
They also voted to cease a provision of Obamacare which would proffer tax penalties on employers who failed to provide health insurance for their employees. This protected the bloated profits of corporations.
They passed the “Stop Government Abuse Act,” a provision to allow individuals to tape their conversations with IRS agents. That was extremely important legislation. (?)
Senate Democrats introduced their measure of a transportation and housing bill, but Republicans voted it down. The legislation included popular projects such as road and bridge repairs and community development grants for local projects. We don’t need those.
Taking the lead to block the bill was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said, if all the ‘politicalese’ is removed, that he supports the Sequester, and no money should be spent no matter how necessary. (Unless it’s for his 2014 re-election bid.) There was only one Republican who voted for the bill. She is Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who co-wrote the legislation.
Meanwhile, TEA Partiers are planning to shut down the government over the upcoming budget discussions.
So here is the breakdown of the average time spent in a 365 day period by a congressman.
Days spent in D.C.: 140. Weekend days: 105. Federal holidays: 10. Recess/travel/state work days: 110.
Congressmen who have been asked about the few hours spent doing their job are quick to reflect on how hard they work while in their states. (Working on their re-election campaigns.)
It is important to note here that the average American receives 16 total days of combined vacation and holiday time.
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein noted these two areas of work for congress, but also noted:
“There are, in other words, plenty of reasons to hate Congress. But the fact that they carve out a lot of time to go back home and meet with the people they’re supposed to be representing isn’t one of them. The problem with Congress isn’t what they do on recess, it’s what they don’t do when they’re in session,” he says.
“Meanwhile, immigration reform, a fix for the farm bill, and the 2014 budget all remain untouched. Once again, Congress is packing it in having left all the big work undone,” says Businessweek’s Kristen Hinman.
“Just days before Congress is to leave Washington (and not return until after Labor Day!), there’s almost no real activity,” says a team of NBC News reporters, led by Chuck Todd. “Indeed, as it faces a record-high disapproval rating in the NBC/WSJ poll, Congress is doing two things right now: 1) packing its bags for its month-long break, and 2) laying the groundwork for the fall fights on all of these issues.”
Is congress overworked? Should it be allowed to go on vacation before its work is done? Speak up America.
Alfred James reporting