Members of Congress Get Paid Well for 28-Hour Work Week

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
(book by John Gillespie and David Zweig)

It sounds like the ultimate dream job: Get paid nearly $175,000 to work less than 30 hours a week, while getting about two-thirds of the year off.


That’s the life members of Congress lived this year, during what’s been described as one of the least productive sessions ever for lawmakers.


For 2013, representatives in the U.S. House were in session for only 942 hours. That comes out to about a 28-hour work week in Washington.


Regardless of how many hours they worked, or how few bills they adopted, lawmakers received $174,000 in salary.


It wasn’t always this cushy for congressional members. Six years ago, the House logged 1,700 hours in session, nearly double the amount of this year’s total.


Meanwhile, the Senate also spent little time in session during 2013: only 99 days. That’s four more days than its record low of 95 days, set back in 1991.


By the time this year’s session ends, Congress will have piled up a substantial list of key measures that never went anywhere, including reforming the National Security Agency, immigration policies and the U.S tax code.


The House often appeared busy, but it was usually due to Republicans generating bills to satisfy its base—from restricting government oversight and abortion to its four dozen attempts to undercut President Obama’s health care law, finally leading to October’s infamous government shutdown.


“This was a huge waste of time, this Congress,” Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-California) told The New York Times.


Likewise, said Representative Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma): “We owe the American people more than we’ve been giving.”  

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Senate Prepares to Wrap Up Sluggish 2013 (by Jeremy Peters, New York Times)

Congress' Calendar for 2013: 239 Days Off (by Kenneth Ackerman, Huffington Post)

Congress Got 239 Days Off This Year, Workers Are Guaranteed Zero (by Bryce Covert, Think Progress)

Salaries of Members of Congress: Recent Actions and Historical Tables (by Ida A. Brudnick, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)

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


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