For House, 2014 Will Be a Busy Year — Away From Washington

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor speaks during a press conference at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on October 10, 2013.
National Journal
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Billy House
Oct. 31, 2013, 9:20 a.m.

House Re­pub­lic­an lead­ers plan to con­tin­ue the prac­tice of schedul­ing one week of re­cess dur­ing each month next year ““ and will free mem­bers up al­most en­tirely in the month be­fore the Nov. 4 mid-term elec­tions, and the week after.

Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Eric Can­tor form­ally an­nounced the 2014 elec­tion year House cal­en­dar Thursday, and there’s plenty of time out­side Wash­ing­ton.

There’s a nearly two week spring break in April, and then law­makers will be out of ses­sion for the en­tire month of Au­gust and bey­ond ““ ex­tend­ing in­to first full week of Septem­ber, which in­cludes Labor Day.

The House will be in re­cess for an­oth­er week near the end of Septem­ber, be­fore re­turn­ing to Wash­ing­ton for just two days on Sept. 29 and Sept. 30. Law­makers will then be in Wash­ing­ton the fol­low­ing week for their only two sched­uled ses­sion days dur­ing the en­tire month of Oc­to­ber.

In­deed, there are just 15 sched­uled ses­sion days over the fi­nal two months of the year.

Of­fi­cially, the second ses­sion of this 113th Con­gress is set to be­gin with the con­ven­ing of the House Jan. 7, but that is just one week be­fore gov­ern­ment fund­ing of­fi­cially ex­pires on Jan 15.

Wheth­er the tim­ing be­comes an is­sue de­pends on wheth­er — and when — the budget con­fer­ence com­mit­tee pro­duces a plan to fund the gov­ern­ment bey­ond mid-Janu­ary, and wheth­er the two cham­bers ap­prove that plan.

Can­tor de­scribed the sched­ule in a state­ment as a con­tinu­ation of an ap­proach since Re­pub­lic­ans took over the ma­jor­ity in 2011 that “has cre­ated cer­tainty, in­creased ef­fi­ciency and pro­ductiv­ity in the com­mit­tee pro­cess.”

But some have cri­ti­cized Con­gress this year as be­ing ex­actly the op­pos­ite ““ his­tor­ic­ally un­pro­duct­ive. For in­stance, the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee, the power­ful tax-writ­ing pan­el, had yet to move any sub­stant­ive rev­en­ue bills by the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber this year.

And few are likely to con­sider the shut­ting down of gov­ern­ment for 16 days as a meas­ure of pro­ductiv­ity.

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