A call for more work in the Congress

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With the Congress out on a two week break for Easter, one lawmaker says it’s time for his colleagues to do more work in the Congress, urging the institution to limit time off and to force action on legislation.

“Average Americans work five days a week so there is no reason Congress should not be required to as well,” Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) argues, as he put forth his “Fix Congress Now” plan.

Among his ideas:

+ A 5-day Congressional work week with the House in session every day

+ Required votes on bills within 60 days of their approval in committee

+ No budget approved, then no pay for lawmakers

+ Approve legislation to forestall the chance of government shutdowns and battles over raising the debt limit

One item in that listed immediately intrigued me, which was the idea of forcing lawmakers to work more.

But the details might not leave some voters too impressed.

If you actually read the resolution introduced by Peters – which you can find here, you will see that his plan would have Congress work 5-day weeks for 39 weeks each year.

Neither the House nor the Senate works many five days weeks where they are in session and voting each of those days; instead it’s usually Monday evening to Thursday afternoon or Tuesday to Friday.

As for break weeks – also known as the “District work periods” – Peters would try to regulate those as well.

The resolution reads, “there shall be not more than 13 recess weeks during each calendar year.”

13 weeks of recess – that still leaves a lot of time each year where the House and Senate aren’t in session and working (and it probably sounds pretty good to people who get two weeks of vacation a year.)

But – 13 recess weeks isn’t that dramatic of a change from the official schedule in 2015, where GOP leaders have planned for 17 recess weeks in the House.

That’s about four months this year where the House will not be in session.

So, next time you hear a lawmaker of either party say that Congress just didn’t have the time to do something – you can probably shrug off that explanation.


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