They Work Hard For Your Money?

They Work Hard For Your Money?

Adrienne BoettingerMonday,11 August 2014

The Snap:

It’s exhausting to be a Congressperson these days. Between suing the president, blocking legislation and appearing on cable news, there’s barely any time to fundraise for your next campaign. Then to top off the unfairness sundae with a cherry of injustice, Congress is mocked for going on recess. As if recess was a time to go on fact-finding trips to the Caribbean or make a dent in Netflix queues! Puh-lease. There is a metric buttload of work to do when Congress is in recess. There’s fundraising and…fundraising and, well tons of other stuff! Plus, Congress has already worked a whopping 85 days in 2014 (just a little less than half the workdays most non-Congressional Americans have worked in the same timespan). We may have to lie down in a darkened room with a glass of bourbon just imagining the grueling schedules worked by these tireless patriots.

The Download:

Congress has been getting a bad rap. What with President Obama threatening executive actions left and left, Jon Stewart remarking that Congress is almost losing out to pubic lice in a popularity contest, and very few constituents haranguing their offices (by their offices, we mean Congressional offices…though we guess pubic lice could also have their own offices) demanding that the Reps and Senators actually attend a vote or at least show up on the House or Senate floors occasionally, when is there time for a little R&R?!

Congress evaluates itself as pretty hardworking and while we’ll agree that Congressional staff is generally insanely diligent and underpaid, we take a little issue with how Congress describes its work hours. In a survey by Congressional Management Foundation, House members indicated they only spent 15-17% of their time concentrating on their families, friends and personal lives. Although we don’t think the bulk or their work week is spent lolling about in a spa or testing every golf course within the Capitol Beltway, we think Congress should start working five days a week like rest of us unlucky bastards and that work time shouldn’t include running for reelection.

After leaving the Hill, former Republican Senator Olympia Snowe advocated for the foreign concept of a five-day Congressional work week. Noting the issues facing Congress were hard, Snowe pointed out that working approximately 2.5 to 3 days a week wasn’t going to make it any easier. It may be tough to believe but spending time campaigning and demonizing your Congressional colleagues via cable news won’t actually make it easier to work with them to cut through gridlock and quit the addiction to governing by crisis.

Fear not, fellow citizens! You don’t even have to wait for me to become Queen of Everything to do something that could change things. Your Reps and Senators are home until after Labor Day. They will be holding town halls and, of course, fundraising events as far as the eye can see. CONTACT THEM. It isn’t hard; email, phone, Tweet, show up at their offices, whatever. Tell them what you expect them to do when they get back to the Hill. Tell them how you will hold them accountable. Then tell them again. And again. Become as annoyingly repetitive as your kids are when they ask, ‘are we there yet?’, or as persistent as your mothers are when they ask why you’re still not married. It’s the only hope we have until real campaign finance reform takes a bite out of the power of the lobbyists and super PACs.


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Hat Tips:

APCongressional Calendar of the House Majority LeaderThe Daily ShowCongressional Management FoundationUSA.govNPR, Image Credit: Flickr*


*Converted from color to black & white

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