After John Boehner became Speaker following the GOP’s takeover of the House of Representatives back in 2011, Republican leaders decided Congress should meet less in Washington. So they announced a loose goal of two weeks on, one week off in the nation’s Capitol – giving members the chance to spend extended time back in their districts every third week. That was in addition to the numerous days off Congress already avails itself of.
David Jolly thinks it’s too much.
According to the statement released by the Pinellas County Congressman’s staff, over the last 20 years, the U.S. House has been in session on average 137 days each year. Comparatively, the typical American worker putting in a 40-hour, 5-day workweek is at their job 241 days each year.
And that’s why he’s introduced legislation that would require the House to be in a session of 40-hours a week while in Washington.
“This ‘try-nothing’ Congress needs a reality check,” Jolly said on Monday. A work week in Washington should be no different than a work week in every other town across the nation.”
Actually, the House’s schedule in 2015 has been the most robust yet since the GOP took back the chamber after the 2010 elections. At the beginning of the year, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that the House was scheduled to meet for 132 days this year, up from 112 days in 2014. The House is scheduled to meet 13 days this month, nine in November, and 11 in December.
In comparison, most people working 40 hours a week generally have to clock in at least 20 days per month.
The issue isn’t a new one for Jolly, who was sent to Washington to represent the CD 13 seat back in March of 2014. Last September, Jolly penned a letter to the House Rules Committee urging leaders to enhance the congressional calendar, saying the “extent of the national and global issues we face today, more than ever before, require great deliberation, robust debate, moments of conviction, and decisive action on our part. The ‘People’s House’ simply cannot address the many priorities of the nation if we are not in session more days.”
The issue could have more resonance for Jolly in his Senate campaign, as the public continues to sour on all things representing the status quo in Washington. Jolly is competing against fellow Congressman Ron DeSantis, Lieutenant Governor Carlos-Lopez Cantera and former CIA contractor Todd Wilcox in the race for the Republican nomination for Senate in 2016, and they all are running on an anti-Washington platform.
Jolly’s bill follows closely on a similar announcement by another of Florida’s members of Congress, Democrat Gwen Graham. Last Friday, Graham said she will file a “Shutdown Prevention Act,” forcing Congress to pass a federal budget each year. The bill would force Congress “to actually work by cutting off travel funds, forbidding recesses and limiting weekends to just two days,” instead of three or four days.