Congress’ Light Work Schedule Isn’t Getting the Job Done

Written by Genevieve Wood, 3-7-17, at the Daily Signal:

As of the end of February, the House of Representatives has spent a total of 31 days doing business in Washington and the U.S. Senate has spent 30. If nothing changes, they are basically on track to meet the same monthly Washington workload as the 114th Congress where the House averaged a whopping 13 days a month in both 2015 and 2016, and the Senate’s monthly average was 14 days across the same time period.

Many members will say that just because they aren’t in Washington doesn’t mean they aren’t working. They are busy, busy back in their districts and states staying in touch with their constituents and learning about issues they need to address.

But let’s be honest. In this connected world of phones, email, the internet, and social media, it’s not quite as hard for lawmakers to reach out and touch the folks back home—and vice versa—as it used to be.

Second, what’s the point of learning about new problems to solve when you have yet to deliver on the very ones you’ve already promised to fix?

For comparison, let’s look at the last two periods where Congress was dealing with a new chief executive.

In 2001, the House was only in session 14 days over the first two months of President George W. Bush’s presidency, and the Senate was here for 25. Republicans, at that time, had majorities in the House and Senate.

In 2009, during the first two months of Barack Obama’s presidency, the House spent 27 days in session, the Senate was here 34. Democrats controlled both the House and Senate.

Notice a difference? When Democrats have majorities, they tend to run with it.

A look at the legislative history over the first 100 days of the Bush and Obama presidencies provides further evidence.

Congress introduced mostly minor legislative proposals during Bush’s first 100 days, and even his signature legislation, the No Child Left Behind Act, was only introduced—it didn’t actually pass Congress until the end of 2001.

In fact, Bush signed no legislation until June of that year. And that was before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, which understandably altered the Bush administration’s agenda.

Contrast that to the record of Obama, who signed six pieces of legislation in his first 100 days. That’s right, six. And they included some big-ticket items for the left.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was teed up by Democrats in Congress before Obama even took the oath of office, and the new president signed it on Jan. 29. Both the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization and the “stimulus” deal, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, were passed and signed by mid-February.

And none of these bills were bipartisan, unity-building exercises. They got through with mostly Democratic votes.

Fast forward to 2017, when two months into President Donald Trump’s administration, no major legislation has been passed. There is no excuse. Legislation to repeal Obamacare made it’s way through both the House and Senate in 2015. All it needed was a Republican president to sign it.

Republicans could have simply reintroduced that legislation in early January of this year, passed it, and had it ready for Trump to sign his first day in office. But they didn’t.

And, as has been widely reported, even by the mainstream media, Trump’s Cabinet confirmations have gone through at a much slower pace than previous recent administrations.  On Day One of the Bush administration, seven Cabinet nominees were confirmed. Six were confirmed on Day One of Obama’s administration.

But on Trump’s? Only two.

Additionally, according to one tracking service monitoring 550 key positions, out of approximately 1,200 across the government that require Senate confirmation (deputy and assistant secretaries, general counsels, chief financial officers, etc.), only 18 of Trump’s have been confirmed as of this writing. Eighteen.

That means the political appointees from the previous administration still hold majority of those positions. And if you think many of them aren’t using every last day they have on the job to block the new administration’s agenda, then you haven’t been following stories about government leaks.

In the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and company have been using all the parliamentary and procedural tricks they can find to block confirmations and stall the process. Yes, that is very frustrating.

But even more frustrating is that Republicans aren’t doing all they can to put a stop to this.

The Senate does not have a constitutional right to go home. They can be kept in session for as long as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell keeps them there. They can even be forced to work every week, and six or seven days per week, if that’s what it takes to stop this nonsense.

The idea that at this rate they will succeed in repealing Obamacare, protecting the border, reforming the tax code, overhauling regulations, and making good on other campaign promises they made is increasingly questionable.


Ms. Wood compared the working days in both houses, but she didn’t mention the numerous weeks they’re not in Washington at all. The above calendar give you a good picture of just how light their work load is in comparison to that of average working Americans.

I think this shows us where the real entitlement problem is.


Categories: Political


6 replies

  1. This is because the vast majority of Republicans don’t really care about governing, conservative principles, the Constitution, or our nation. The ones that do can be counted on my fingers and toes.

    The rest ONLY care about having some power, the perqs of office, getting media attention, getting invites to the DC social scene events, and lining their pockets.


  2. Ya know, after reading this piece (great post Kathy!) and reflecting over my MANY years of following politics, it becomes PAINFULLY apparent that what we conservative American patriots really need is for our representatives of both houses to WORK like the democrats while pursuing a real conservative agenda. Our Republican reps talk a good game but sit on their fat asses once they get elected. They may have good and honest devotion to conservative principles, but they’re either lazy, afraid, or both. Just think how the country could be if the Republicans actually took things as seriously as the democrats. We also suffer from cowardly leadership. If they could push conservative legislation, I’d hire Harry Reid, Pelosi, and Schumer any day over McConnell and Ryan or Boehner. As much as I dislike all of them, the democrat leadership in Congress has a proven record of getting the job done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As bad as I hate to give the Dems credit for anything good, you’re right – they’re much better at making use of their time than the Rs are – at least when they’re in charge. When our guys are in charge, they seem to think they can coast through and maybe that’s because they’re not self-starters and have no agenda in mind. They don’t seem to have a check list of things they want to get done within certain time frames. Lots of talk and little to back it up.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Kathy.

    After waiting out 8 long years of the Obama destruction you would think congress would be ready to do whatever it takes to make the most of this opportunity to set us back on the right course. These people should be sleeping in their offices and eating at their desks if necessary. Many Americans have done more for far less important missions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If getting us back on the right course were truly their goal, they would be working overtime. Yet here we are in nearly mid March and the Rs can’t even agree on legislation, let alone get it to Trump’s desk. From what I’ve read, Trump puts in long days and works circles around these guys, while they’re stuck in slow motion.

      Liked by 1 person

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