Friday Talking Points -- GOP's 22-Week Work Year

We'd like to begin today with an issue that we regularly get incensed about here, mostly because it flies under the radar of just about everyone -- including the entire media universe. Because for once, Democrats are making the attempt to use the issue to make some political hay (even though, in this regard, they're admittedly almost as bad as the Republicans).

The Republican House leadership just released the tentative work schedule for the House of Representatives for the next calendar year. It contains only 109 days of actual work. That's for the entire year, folks. That is less than 30 percent of the days a year actually contains. To be fair, it is almost 42 percent of the average number of workdays in a year (in other words, discounting weekend days). But still -- 42 percent?!?

Stated another way, 109 days is one day short of 22 work weeks. There are, in case anyone's forgotten, 52 weeks in a year. This conveniently leaves a whopping 30 weeks off -- 150 work days -- for vacationing and fundraising and campaigning and for all the other things these so-called "public servants" do in their voluminous spare time, instead of the job we are paying them a six-figure income to perform.

This is pathetic. Seriously, we're in the midst of several crises, and the House is going to take an obscene 30 weeks off next year? Majority Leader Eric Cantor, spinning hard, responded thusly: "As with this year, the goal of next year's calendar is to create certainty and productivity in the legislative process, protect committee time and afford members the opportunity to gain valuable input from their constituents at home." For the benefit of the 99 percent who do not speak Washingtonese, I will helpfully translate this into English: "It's an election year, and we've got to raise one whopping pile of campaign contributions by sucking up to the corporations and the wealthy -- and it's really time consuming! Plus, we've got to take our normal month-long vacations every couple of weeks, and we'll be on the campaign trail for all of October -- so you should just be glad we're going to show up in Washington at all. Besides, it's obvious nothing's going to get done for the whole of next year, so why are you complaining?"


When you get down into the details of this problem, it actually gets worse. Congress, at times, magically turns a two-day workweek into a "three-day" workweek, by convening on Tuesday afternoon and heading for the exits before noon on Thursday. That's three calendar days, but for anyone punching a clock, it would only be worth two days' pay.

Nice work if you can get it, eh?

But, as I said, the Democrats aren't all that much better. The last comparable year was 2008, when Democrats controlled the House in a presidential election year. They worked a not-so-impressive 119 days -- one day short of 24 weeks. Not exactly anything to brag about, is it?

But it's still ten days better than the GOP's plan for 2012. And it's a perfectly good political issue to exploit for the House Democrats -- because I'd be willing to guess that 99 percent of Americans would be shocked to learn how little Congress actually works, and also that they'd be outraged if they did hear about it. So it's certainly worth the Democrats' time and effort to point it out.


[Continue reading this full and unedited article at, complete with our weekly picks for the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week and Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards, and the "Talking Points" section -- where, this week, we take a look back into the history of "class warfare" rhetoric, from Andrew Jackson's time.]


Chris Weigant blogs at:

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

Become a fan of Chris on Huffington Post

Full archives of FTP columns:

All-time award winners leaderboard, by rank