"Do or Do not. There is no try."

An Efficient Metaphor For What’s Wrong With Congress

We know Congress isn’t getting along. But that’s no good  reason to spend less time together.

The House’s 2012 calendar is out, and it reflects some of  the  divisions the chamber is experiencing. Majority Leader Eric Canto has scheduled   just 109 days in session, a schedule he said will  make for a more streamlined legislative process while giving  lawmakers the  opportunity to spend time with their constituents. House  Democratic Whip Steny  Hoyer complained that the schedule is “more of  the same.” This year so far,  the House has conducted legislative  business for just 111 days, Hoyer noted,  nearly equal to the 104 days  spent in recess or in pro forma session.

Let’s be clear: when the House is back home, they are not  on  vacation. Their work schedules in the district are sometimes more  arduous  than those they have in Washington, since lawmakers are  expected to travel  around their districts, speaking to a myriad of  constituencies. They also have  to raise campaign cash during these  trips, a task that is becoming an  increasingly larger part of their  jobs.

Nor is Congress slacking off when they are not actually  on the floors  of the House and Senate. They have committee hearings, meetings  with  constituents, and (hopefully) negotiating sessions with fellow  lawmakers.

But spending less time in Washington is not going to heal  the  divisions in Congress. In fact, it’s likely to get worse. Especially in  the  House, with its 435 members, personal relationships are critical to  achieving  compromise. Lawmakers who barely see each other will never  get past the  party-identification barrier.

Further, the calendar (like this year’s) is out of synch  with the  Senate calendar. The two chambers take week-long recesses at different   times, making it harder for the House and Senate to reach the  compromises  necessary to pass legislation.

The 2012 calendar is campaign-friendly, however. After  October 5,  members are free until after the 2012 elections, giving them the  time  to keep their jobs, but not actually do their jobs. The new calendar is   indeed more efficient, as Cantor contends. But it’s an efficient  metaphor for  what has gone wrong with Congress.

By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, October 28, 2011

October 31, 2011 - Posted by | Conservatives, Elections, GOP | , , , , ,

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