Senators and congressmen will work two days per week in 2016
Want a part-time job that earns $174,000 with generous benefits and a killer pension? Run for Congress.
Writing Nov. 13, Dana Milbank of The Washington Post reported that Congress will meet only 111 days in 2016. That is two days per week. They will spend the rest of the year using their generous travel allowance to stay in touch with the rest of us.
There was a time when congressmen and senators came to Washington by car or train or even air, did their work over a sustained work period lasting months and then went home for various recesses, and especially in summer when Washington’s heat is beastly.
Two things changed that. Central air conditioning and the commercial jet. Air conditioning made summer palatable. And the jet allowed members to come and go with impunity.
These days, congressmen love to crow about not living in Washington. No, indeed, they proclaim to prize their long weekends at home, being where the real people are. The problem is that a deliberative body such as the House or Senate, only does business when it deliberates, in a chamber in Washington, D.C. But that’s what these men and women seldom do these days.
Because of their frequent rush for the door, congressmen and senators lack the social relationships their predecessors enjoyed. Lacking real relationships, they treat each other like abstract objects. They have much deeper relationships with the narrowly-focused interest lobbies and ideological think tanks. They also have closer relationships with big campaign donors. And that brings us to the phenomenon of the permanent campaign season and year-round fundraising.
One of the best pieces of advice that any employee receives is to make yourself essential to your employer. The men and women of Congress have dug themselves a hole by not facing the pressing needs of the nation. They are inessential.