If you want to make a $174,000 annual base salary and only work 33 percent of the year, get elected to Congress.
According to LegiStorm, the base salary for all rank-and-file members of Congress is $174,000, which is more than triple the median household income of the United States. But it turns out that members of Congress only work one out of every three days.
According to ThoughtCo, The House of Representatives was in session for only 18 hours a week in 2013.
Another report confirmed that members worked only 130 days in 2015, when it pointed out a trend that had taken hold “since the late 2000s, according to a Reuters review of congressional records going back 18 years. Lawmakers increasingly try to cram their legislative work into the middle of the week in Washington and then rush back home.”
That particular report claimed that lawmakers need to get back to their constituencies, because “absence from the capital reinforces the effects of a deepening partisan divide in recent years that has led to high-profile deadlocks over legislation previously seen as routine, according to some former lawmakers and political analysts.”
An opinion piece in the Washington Times that ran in March of this year revealed that in April, House and Senate members would only work a total of eight days. And political commentator Madison Gesiotto wasn’t buying the excuse that it’s important for them to get home and be among their people.
“In 2017, we are lucky enough to have Twitter, Facebook, FaceTime, Skype, email and so many other incredible technologies that allow us to communicate anytime with people from anywhere across the world,” Gesiotto pointed out, noting, “Congress could easily use these outlets to reach out to constituents without having to leave Washington.”
Fund-raising for campaigns apparently takes up a lot of their time. Could you imagine getting paid to get paid?
Back in the real world, the average American worker puts off paid vacation days and works as much as possible with the knowledge that if we fall behind, we will quickly be replaced. Studies show that full-time U.S. employees use only 54 percent of their paid vacation days, but the notion of a congressman leaving Washington later in order to get things done never happens.
The five-week August recess is a tradition that has occurred for decades, but in July, some Senate Republicans demanded that the GOP skip the vacation and stay at work. They even sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and met with him personally, begging him to cancel the August break. They were afraid that the frequent breaks Congress traditionally takes won’t leave them enough time to get the necessary legislation passed, such as healthcare reform, tax code reform, vote on an infrastructure bill and plan a budget. But you can see how that worked out.
If how people spend their time is a direct reflection of their priorities, then “We the People” might want to re-think letting our elected, paid government officials sun themselves on beaches that are closed off to the public because of a lack of funding while our country holds more than $19 trillion in debt, not including unfunded liabilities. Our health care, immigration, and justice systems are in desperate need of reform; our public schools are underperforming, and middle class families and small businesses are being taxed out of financial security.
A blog in Freedom Works points out that the average Congressman spent $53,170 of taxpayer money on travel in 2013. “These aren’t legislators, these are professional campaigners,” says writer Adam Brandon, noting, “The American people aren’t being heard by government because the game is rigged. Washington isn’t broken. It’s ‘fixed.'”
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