Up until around 1815, members of Congress worked part-time. Some say it was because they weren’t paid a salary thereby needing to get back to their paying jobs; which was partially true. But the fact is there just wasn’t enough work for them to do. Therefore, they came to Washington, did “the people’s” work and left.
My, my, how things have changed — a little.
No one would disagree that in today’s world there’s plenty of meaningful work to keep Congress busy for many more days than was needed 200 years ago. However, the evidence shows there certainly must not be enough for a full-time Congress.
The Republican controlled House of Representatives recently released their calendar for 2016. They will be in session for 111 days leaving them 254 days to — to — well, whatever. Yes, some of them have committee meetings to conduct and/or attend, but that will not account for very many days. So what are they doing with their “time-off”?
Yep, I figured you’d blame it on election year which requires a lot of campaigning. However, last year was not an election year and the House was in session for just 22 days more, giving them 232 “off-days”. In 2013, another election year, they spent only 100 days in session.
So by the end of 2016 the House of Representatives will have spent just 344 days in session over the past 3 years with 751 out of the Chamber. Suggesting, of course, they spend only one-third of their time doing the people’s work.
However, there is one thing that Congressional members spend a lot of time on: Getting re-elected. After 10 years in Congress, GOP Representative Rodney Alexander left in 2014 saying fundraising dominates the life of a member of Congress.
“…that’s an unfortunate part of the business that we’re in. But it’s the main business, and it’s 24 hours a day raising money.” [Bold mine]
That aside, they have too much idle time on their hands and that’s where the real problems come in. That time is spent finding ways to screw the commoner at the behest of corporations and their wealthy friends, and to make the opposition look bad. If they insist on Congress being a full-time job, they should be treated like sailors at sea: Put a broom and mop in their hands in order to keep them out of mischief. As the old saying goes, ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’.