The Ease of Congressional Summers


Summer is a good time to be an elected representative in the nation’s capital.  Not a lot of work generally gets done.

Congress is on recess this week, as they prepare to take a more extended vacation beginning July 29th and running through September 4.  They’ll be taking 218 days off this year, which is nice work for a job that pays $174,000 a year.

But it’s more complicated than that, says Southern Methodist University Political Science professor Dr. Cal Jillson.  “In 2015 Congress was actually in session about 134 days, and in 2016 they were actually in session doing business on 112 days.”  But he says it’s they’re schedules when they are not in the Capitol dome that tell the tale.  “They take long – what they call “district work periods” – where they are back in their district where they are talking with constituents, and other things they would consider to be work.”

In the U.S. Senate, where Republicans are working on health care legislation, five GOP senators demanded Friday that Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell cancel the August recess if they have not passed a bill by then.


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