A light year for Congress


Congress has released it’s working calendar for the coming year, and it looks rather light! This article looks at the lack of days that Congress plans to sit in the coming year. With congressional approval ratings at just 13% (from RealClearPolitics; actually quite high for Congress, it has been as low as 9% recently) it seems odd that this would be the case.

However, the reason for this is largely due to ‘district work weeks’, allowing time for Congressmen to go home to their districts and do constituency work. This underlines the importance of pleasing your State over your party in US politics. This could perhaps be even more true in an election year when spending time in a constituency is crucial for re-election; my students know (or will do!) the example of Tom Petri for the role that not spending time in your constituency can play in an election.

It also perhaps reflects the fact that Congress expects to have to get little done, whether due to gridlock or due to the end of the Obama presidency and all eyes on the next guy. Either way, it serves to underline a perceived weakness in Congress at a time when Obama is not yet seen as a ‘lame duck’ president.