Congress Takes 5 Weeks Off, Works for 8 Days and Takes another 8 Weeks Off

Monday, September 22, 2014
(cartoon: Dave Granlund)

It’s not easy being a member of Congress, what with all the suitcase packing they’ve been doing.


Lawmakers took five weeks off from Washington during their summer break. They came back this month to work…for eight days. Now, they’re jetting off again to their districts, or to the beach, where they’ll spend nearly the next eight weeks not doing any legislative work.


The House had been scheduled to be in session Friday, then four days in the week of September 29, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) announced Thursday that that would be the final work day until after the November 4 midterm election, according to The Hill. Senators also were quick to head out of town. Now members of both houses have plenty of time to campaign without any pesky work getting in the way.


Some House Democrats publicly scolded their Republican counterparts for adjourning the House session earlier than expected. “The American people have to ask: ‘What do you do for a living?’” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) told The Hill.


During their brief stay in the nation’s capital, lawmakers managed to approve one key piece of legislation, which authorized the Obama administration to funnel weapons to Syrian rebels and approved short-term funding for government operations to avoid another shutdown.


Congress is scheduled to return on November 12. Its members will have just a few more lame-duck weeks to avoid setting a record for enacting the least number of laws of any Congress since such statistics began being kept in 1973. So far the current 113th Congress has enacted 163 laws, in comparison to the 284 passed by the 2011-2013 Congress. The 108th Congress, which operated in 2003-2004, enacted 504 laws. Since then, each Congress has passed fewer laws than the previous one.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Lawmakers Exit Washington to Campaign (by Cristina Marcos, The Hill)

Congress Heads Home After Exhausting Eight Days of Work (by Russell Berman, The Wire)

Congress Ashamed of Congress for Tending to Elections Before War Authorization Debate (by Jennifer Bendery and Sabrina Siddiqui, Huffington Post)

Yes, the House Is Going Home Already. No, This Isn’t Some Kind of Record (by Sarah Mimms, National Journal)

Historical Comparison of Bills by Final Status (

Congress has Passed Barely One Law a Week in 2013 (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)



Guy Average 9 years ago
Why would we want them making more laws? The better record would be fewer laws = less government control.
anonamouse 9 years ago
Neither liberty nor property is safe when Congress is in session. What the country really needs is a moratorium on new legislation (most of which seems designed simply to find new ways to enrich corporations at the expense of taxpayers). Giving Congress abundant nap time is a good start.
Aarradin 9 years ago
The less time Congress spends in DC, the better off we all are. There is no chance that the current Congress would ever pass any legislation that is not an unmitigated disaster for the country.
Andy 9 years ago
I believe the constitution only requires they meet once a year.
Miles 9 years ago
Tom O 9 years ago
Personally, I don't know why anyone thinks Congress does a good job when it passes lots of laws. There are already so damn many laws on the books, a GOOD Congress would be sunseting laws, not writing new ones. About all of the laws passed since 2000 should be put down like the rabid dogs they are.
Amreican 9 years ago
WOW. I didn't know they worked so hard. Time for another pay raise! That's the first thing they will do when the get back.
mixplix 9 years ago
What do the 23,000 appointed staff for Congress do when they take so much time off? Do they get payed too? Yup there are 23,000 appointed with different titles but all are appointed.
David 9 years ago
Who needs to pass laws in congress when the white house now does that?
SilentScout 9 years ago
Congress is self indulgent, lazy, and as a result extremely weak. This is why they continue to turn a blind eye and allow the usurper Obama to remain in office.

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