There are lots of reasons that Congress gets so little done. We'll posit just three possible reasons:
1) Lawmakers are now so partisan that they vote only the party line, without regard to their constituents' needs.
2) The massive influx of lobbyist money means that every member of Congress is owned by special interests.
3) Those elected see getting re-elected as their primary job, so they never -- ever -- do anything to rock the boat.
Those are just three. There are roughly 97,284,683 more.
But here's crazy idea: Maybe if they worked more, they'd get more done. You know, like you, working your 40-hour weeks, getting lots done.
The official calendar put out by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy shows that lawmakers in the lower chamber will have 218 days off. For comparison, you probably get the weekends off, 104 days, plus 10 days of federal holidays and maybe two weeks vacation for a total of 128. That means you work 237 days a year (238 in leap years). The House will be working just slightly more than the days you get off — 147 in 2017.
Here's the full work sked for the House:
The House GOP is so dysfunctional now it can't even agree on when to work. "House Republican leaders started 2017 with plans for the lower chamber to have some atypical five-day work weeks to accommodate an ambitious GOP legislative agenda, but they are starting to cut those weeks short as intraparty feuding prevents progress on their top priorities," Roll Call reports.
When the House returns after the Independence Day recess, they have just six legislative weeks scheduled in which to fund the government before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The debt ceiling will likely also need to be addressed in that timeframe.
Some Republicans are already calling on Congress to stay in session during August, instead of taking its typical recess. Continued inaction will only increase those calls.
Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) is is one such lawmaker calling for working through August. He notes the Senate has just 35 working days on its schedule before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30 — and a lot to do, he writes in a Daily Signal piece headlined "It’s Time to Pull the Plug on August Recess."
First, we have to complete the work on the first phase of repealing Obamacare and fixing our health care system.
Second, we have to pass a budget resolution that will work within the reconciliation process for changing the tax code.
Third, we have to use the appropriations process to fund the federal government by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
Fourth, we have to deal with our debt limit. The Treasury Department has used extraordinary measures to buy time since the national debt hit its limit of $19.8 trillion in March.
Fifth, we have to finally act on our once-in-a-generation opportunity to change our archaic tax code, but we will only be able to do so if we achieve the first four priorities.
That heavy load, Perdue says, means "The only appropriate response is to cancel, or heavily truncate, the annual August recess that turns the United States Capitol into a ghost town."
But doing so would likely take a vote, and senators aren't likely to agree — or even be in town long enough to cast ballots.