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Robert Longley

House to Be In Session Only 126 Days in 2013

By December 12, 2012

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The U.S. House of Representatives will spend a grand total of 126 days actually in session during 2013, according to the official Calendar for the First Session of the 113th Congress released by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia).

Cantor's schedule works out to an annual average of about one week on and two weeks off, similar to the schedule first implemented in 2010 after Republicans took over the House majority in the mid-term election.

In other words, out of the 261 weekdays in 2013, the House will spend 135, or 51% of them not in session. By comparison, the U.S. Senate's tentative 2013 schedule currently projects only 73 days on which the Senate will not be in session. Both the House and Senate days not in session include the 10 designated federal holidays.

In a letter to his fellow Representatives, Majority Leader Cantor justified their 4.5 paid months off as being necessary to keep in touch with the people who pay them.

"Part of our goal in scheduling the House is to ensure that we never lose touch with the constituents we each represent while completing our work in Washington," wrote Cantor. "Time spent in the district between Monday and Friday is essential for meeting with small businesses, employees, seniors, veterans, and other local communities during working hours. We will continue to accommodate Members with longer distances to travel home and provide at least one constituent work week each month, with the exception of June."

Also See: How to Meet with Your Members of Congress

Off course, the Representatives are not required to meet with We the People or do anything else on their days not in session, for that matter. But they will, of course, be fully paid for them. In the case of rank-and-file members, that means $174,000 per year and $193,400 per year for Majority Leader Cantor - in session or not.

Also See: Salaries and Benefits of US Congress Members

Now you're probably doing some math and by now have figured out that if House members were paid only for the 126 days they are actually in session, their annual salary (based on $476.71 per day) would drop from $174,000 to $60,065, an annual savings of $113,935 per rank-and-file member. If the two party leadership members are included, this would result in a total annual savings of nearly $50 million.

Another Justification? Theoretically, the rules of debate in the House enable it to get its legislative work done in fewer days in session than the Senate. House rules place strict time limits on all debates on all bills. Debates in the House rarely exceed two hours and are often limited to 30 minutes or less. In the Senate, there is rarely a time limit on debates and Senators who oppose a bill often launch a time-consuming, extended debate, or "filibuster," intended to defeat or amend the bill.

Nice theory, but in actual practice, it often does not work so well. For example, in 2011, the House found time to pass only 326 of the 4,191 bills introduced, the lowest number of bills passed by the House in the last 10 non-election years.

Also See: The 5 Longest Filibusters in US History

Comments

December 14, 2012 at 8:55 pm
(1) Concernicus says:

So, a do nothing House of Reprehensibles, plans on doing even less of nothing. Thank you to all of the bubbleheads that voted these nimrods into office in 2010. Because of your votes and gerrymandering, we are all stuck with the majority of these nincompoops until the 2020 census.

December 17, 2012 at 12:02 am
(2) mindbird says:

When they are working in the field, they should have to account for their time the way any employee does, with detailed time sheets and verification from others and from work done.

December 26, 2012 at 12:31 pm
(3) Al Gough says:

They must think we are all fools. They do nothing when they’re there & still get paid. Maybe, we are fools. Someone voted for these people, after all. How they act & the obvious contempt they show for us is nothing new. It happens each time they lose control of either the WH, House or Senate, or any combination there of.
It should be clear to any one w/ native intel, that the reput’s only interest is in their own agenda, & will not, in any way, have them seem to be working w/ the other side, on any issue!
To my mind, get stuff done in Wash. would prove to more beneficial to a re election bid, then going home to try & drum up support for longer paid vacations.
Can our gov’t be this broken?

March 7, 2013 at 1:34 am
(4) Zach says:

This just defeats me, after reading that Cantor manages to justify even MORE time away from his JOB in Congress/Washington DC by stating a need to remain in even closer contact with a constituent base that has NEVER complained about too little access with member’s back home. ERIC CANTOR is DELUSIONAL!!
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After reading that I had to have a drink to keep from going just apoplectic. They are there less than half the available time, but while there they filibuster everything so that nothing gets done would somebody tell me why we even need a House of representatives?? They are being paid way too much for what they are getting done…
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Also, did you know there are several of them sleeping in their Offices?? How many of YOU are allowed by your bosses to Sleep where you work?

November 26, 2013 at 7:42 pm
(5) Chuck says:

This is nothing new. 2006 under Nancy Pelosi it was only 101 days.

November 27, 2013 at 7:28 am
(6) usgovinfo says:

Chuck: Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was Speaker in 2006, Pelosi took over in Jan. 2007 (110th session of Congress). In the 110th session, the House was in session on 164 days, the Senate on 190. In that session, the House passed 560 bills, more than in any session since 1967.

http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/110_1.pdf

February 19, 2014 at 4:42 pm
(7) OldMule says:

Good!! The LESS they are in session the LESS damage they can do and the SAFER my wallet feels. Pelosi did unfathomable damage to the economy and every day her bunch was in session was a dark day for the U.S.A.

April 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm
(8) RLP says:

SO IF THE AVERAGE CONGRESSMAN WORKED 8 HOURS A DAY (YEAH RIGHT) THEY WOULD MAKE AROUND $174/HOUR. WHATS THE BIG DEAL ABOUT THE SURFER DUDE RECEIVING FOOD STAMPS WHEN WE PAY POLITICIANS WHAT WE DO TO DO NOTHING BUT STEAL OUR MONEY AND BE COMPULSIVE LIARS AND THIEVES. OUR GOVERNMENT IS USLESS. NO IMPEACHMENT YOU WORK FOR US (TAXPAYERS) YOUR FIRED GET OUT OF OUR (TAXPAYERS) HOUSE NOW, TODAY!!!

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