The End of Work as We Know It


Today the Washington Post reports that incoming Majority Leader Steny Hoyer plans on making the 110th Congress, y’know, actually work. The 109th Congress, if it finishes up business this week, will have spent the fewest days in session — the House of Representatives only — of any other Congress in at least the past 60 years. Now some congressmen are complaining that they might have to — gasp — work a five day week.

Congressman Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) apparently is an advocate of a 3-day work week. This is his comment in the Post article, “Keeping us up here eats away at families. Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families — that's what this says.” This comment ought to be a nominee for the silliest and most embarrassing comment by a professional politician in the past year. (Another comment in this category should be “Dollar Bill” Jefferson’s declaration that he will one day offer an honest excuse for keeping $90,000 in cash in his freezer.)

As detailed in the Sunlight Report on the “Do Nothing 109th Congress” the House only scheduled 88 days in session in 2006; scheduled votes on Mondays and Tuesdays at 5:30 pm or 6:30 pm at least 23 times; and ultimately will meet for only 101 days, the lowest number since God knows when.

The Congress this year not only didn’t meet in session, they also have not met in the committees, and have failed to pass anything of substance or necessity. In 2006 the House of Representatives held 1,204 committee meetings the third lowest number in at least the last 20 years. The Congress is also punting on seven appropriations bills because, as Rep. Mike Pence says, “Contrary to popular belief, members of Congress are human beings. They have a certain shelf life and a certain amount of energy to be drawn on. We're tired.”

Yes, working 101 days a year is exhausting. Thomas Mann notes that “Harry Truman's 'do-nothing' Congress passed the Marshall Plan.” In a total of 241 days for the entire 109th Congress (2005-2006) what did these guys do?