Congress Probably Worked More Than You Did This Year

Working in Congress isn’t just about standing on a floor.

Snow begins to gather on a statue outside the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, December 10, 2013. Fresh winter snow moved into the US mid-Atlantic region on Tuesday, shutting schools and offices in the nation's capital and elsewhere as the mid-section of the US remained in the grip of Arctic air that showed no signs of easing.
National Journal
Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
Dec. 16, 2013, 6:17 a.m.

It’s easy to let your head ex­plode look­ing at new num­bers show­ing how much time Con­gress spent in ses­sion in 2013. The House broke a re­cord this year, work­ing the few­est hours in a nonelec­tion year since 2005, at an av­er­age of just about 28 hours a week (or 942 total), ac­cord­ing to The New York Times. The Sen­ate spent just 99 days vot­ing this year, near a 1991 low of 95 days.

When you look at how many hours com­par­able Amer­ic­ans on av­er­age spend work­ing or on work re­lated activ­it­ies, Con­gress’s re­cord seems pretty bad  on its face. Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent Bur­eau of Labor Stat­ist­ics data, em­ployed people ages 25-54 with chil­dren spent 8.8 hours per av­er­age work day on work or work re­lated activ­it­ies in 2012. For a five-day week, that av­er­ages out to 44 hours a week. Of course, not all Amer­ic­ans just work on week­days. For all em­ployed Amer­ic­ans, 34 per­cent worked on week­ends in 2012.

That sure makes it seem like work­ing in Con­gress is a pretty cushy gig. But that would ig­nore the vast amount of drudgery your rep­res­ent­at­ives and sen­at­ors have to put up with off the floor.

Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Alex Seitz-Wald lays out the num­bers: House mem­bers work 70 hours per week on av­er­age when they’re in D.C., and nearly 60 hours per week when they’re not, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the Con­gres­sion­al Man­age­ment Found­a­tion.

Here’s how mem­bers spend their time:

(Con­gress Found­a­tion)

The “per­son­al time” and “fam­ily/friends” sliv­ers are un­ques­tion­ably bleak. That’s es­pe­cially true com­pared with oth­er Amer­ic­ans. Em­ployed Amer­ic­ans ages 25-54 with chil­dren spend nearly a quarter of their av­er­age 2012 work day on either leis­ure and sports, house­hold activ­it­ies, eat­ing and drink­ing, or caring for oth­ers. At best, mem­bers of Con­gress don’t even come close to touch­ing that.

So while Con­gress isn’t really spend­ing all that much time do­ing that ac­tu­al work of passing (or block­ing) le­gis­la­tion, don’t start rush­ing to get that plush con­gres­sion­al job quite yet.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4627) }}

What We're Following See More »
LEGACY PLAY
Sanders and Clinton Spar Over … President Obama
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”

THE 1%
Sanders’s Appeals to Minorities Still Filtered Through Wall Street Talk
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”

DIRECT APPEAL TO MINORITIES, WOMEN
Clinton Already Pivoting Her Messaging
10 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.

THE QUESTION
How Many Jobs Would Be Lost Under Bernie Sanders’s Single-Payer System?
17 hours ago
THE ANSWER

More than 11 million, according to Manhattan Institute fellow Yevgeniy Feyman, writing in RealClearPolicy.

Source:
WEEKEND DATA DUMP
State to Release 550 More Clinton Emails on Saturday
17 hours ago
THE LATEST

Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.

Source:
×