For many of us, vacation time around Christmas and the New Year is just one of a couple times during the year when we can take time off from work to gather with loved ones. However for the vast majority of the year, we are hard at work. When you subtract weekends and Federal holidays, there are around 250 business days in a given year. Most people, however, are able to receive some time off in recognition of their hard work.
Unfortunately, the 2008 recession changed this for many Americans, forcing them to work more and vacation less. These are the sacrifices that most of us have had to make to put food on our table. But the lack-luster recovery we’ve seen under President Obama’s leadership has left many of us working more than we would like to.
However, while most Americans are struggling and taking on second jobs to provide for their families this holiday season, the struggling economy doesn’t seem to have affected Congress. In fact, Congress just went on a 24-day vacation.
Now I know what you’re asking. “Didn’t Congress just go on vacation?” Well, you’re right. If you blindfolded yourself and threw a dart at the congressional calendar, chances are you’d hit one of their vacation days.
Over the course of its two-year term, the 113th Congress will spend twice as many days out of session on vacation as they will in Washington DC.
Every year, the House and Senate Majority Leaders create their chamber’s work schedule. The calendar is divided into two categories: Days in session and days out of session.
During 2013, the Senate spent 170 days out of session and the House of Representatives spent as many as 231 days away from the Capitol. While this might seem like a big difference, the House devotes much of this off-time for “Constituent Work.” That means that, on paper, Congressmen are supposed to go home and “take the pulse” of their constituents. However we both know that this is just a glorified vacation… To put it in perspective, Congress considers the Fourth of July and Easter as constituent work days.
When you crunch the numbers, the average American worked 77.4% LONGER than the average Member of Congress this year. But wait, it gets worse…
In a given year, there are also a handful of long weekends that happen on or around federally recognized holidays. Most Americans usually take a long-weekend around Christmas, New Years, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving. However while the average American might take a handful of long-weekends, members of Congress take one every single weekend!
The House of Representatives, for example, typically operates on a 4 day work-week, either Monday-Thursday or Tuesday-Friday. However what makes this even worse is the fact that the Congressional work-week almost always begins and ends with a half-day, in order for Congressmen to spend more time at home.
So not only is Congress out of session two-thirds of the year, but almost half of the days spent in-session are half-days!
You the taxpayer are paying your members of Congress $174,000 a year to spend most of their time on vacation! And when they do show up to work, more often than not they come in late and leave early!
There is nothing wrong with rewarding your hard work with a much-deserved vacation. There’s also nothing wrong with Congress getting some vacation time as well. However it is absolutely ridiculous that as Congressmen have become less productive, their salaries and vacation-time have increased!
In just this past year (the first half of its term), the 113th Congress managed to pass just 58 laws. That’s it. That’s just a quarter of the productivity of the last Congress, which was also criticized for being overpaid and underworking!
By all accounts, this makes the current Congress the least productive and highest paid ever. It is made even worse by the fact that the majority of these laws were to rename Federal buildings after war heroes.
Well, John Boehner and Harry Reid must think that they’ve done a great job this past year. How else could they justify giving Members of Congress MORE DAYS OFF in 2014? That’s right, the Congressional schedules released for next year show that your representatives will be vacationing EVEN MORE!
So let’s get this straight…
The most over-paid and least-productive Congress, who passed fewer laws than ANY Congress in history, has decided it deserves more vacation days?
I DON’T THINK SO!
Only we can hold Congress accountable. If we don’t raise our voices in opposition, no one will!
Join me in Faxing Congress, telling them to STOP giving themselves more vacation time or face the electoral consequences!