I came across this story in the Washington Post this morning, “Congress Returns From Recess to Even More of the Same.” I know that Congress takes recesses, but I never took a look at the calendar to determine just how much. Here’s a look at the Congressional Calendar, and it is astonishing.
The dark blue means that it is a House and Senate recess. Fifty eight work days off this year, according to this calendar. Fifty eight! (Although, I have to wonder if the November and December calendar is accurate – no days off around Thanksgiving and Christmas seems odd – so likely this year will end up with more than 58 working days off.) Can you imagine? I technically have “unlimited” vacation days at my job, but you can bet that if I took advantage of that (i.e., didn’t come in for a month), that I wouldn’t have my job for long. I generally take about two weeks off each year total.
I'm sure Congresspeople will argue that they are working during the recess, but we really can't be sure. (I'ts like people who "work from home" or "need to stay home because the plumber is coming by." My experience has been that while some people are legitimately working from home or waiting for a repairman, others simply use it as an excuse to go to a Cubs game.) And to me, work does not mean campaigning for the next election. If anyone was really trying to meet with constituents in order to put their finger on the pulse of the people in this country, I haven't seen that either, at least in Illinois.
Why are we paying our Congressmen and Congresswomen huge salaries (rank and file members make $174,000 a year) when essentially at least 20% of their year is spent on “recess.” (I would like a 20% recess from my job. And why do adults need recess? Isn’t that something that happens at elementary school? Or wait, maybe now it’s all starting to make sense.) Now Congress gets to come back and work for 20 working days before taking another recess of three weeks in August and another week and a half in September. And they want us to pay more taxes?