Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have unveiled a plan that would allow the GOP Congress to have one week off for every two weeks of work. While relatively common to have fewer workdays during an election year, the 2012 schedule would only have the House convene for a miniscule 108 days. That's down from 127 days during the last election year in 2010 when Democrats controlled the House. Democrats in the House quickly decried the light schedule as rancorous debates have led to few legislative results in the current session.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a Thursday press conference that "the American people deserve better... it really makes you wonder about the schedule, but particularly at this time, when the American people are feeling so much pain." Democratic House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer complained that "the House has struggled to get even its most basic work done."
The schedule calls for only six work days in January, eight days in April and three days in August. After returning on September 10 from their August recess, the House will only be in session for 13 days before the elections in November 2012. To make sure that lawmakers do not have to wake up too early, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said that he will schedule votes no earlier than 1 p.m. and that they will end before 7 p.m.
For what amounts to part-time legislative work in Washington, regular members of Congress receive a salary of $174,000 a year. House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Washington, makes $223,500 a year. This does not even account for the generous benefits package that members receive, including free healthcare and a pension. It's no wonder that their approval rating sits at an astoundingly low 9 percent. Voters should demand more from their elected officials at a time when the economy remains perilously close to a double-dip recession and millions of Americans are unemployed. Instead of taking vacations and campaigning, perhaps the Congress should consider passing meaningful legislation to spur job creation.
Kyle W. Bell is the author of numerous non-fiction books on politics and video games. Bell holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Indiana University South Bend. He is the owner of the video game website Game Freaks 365 and a political blog.