Surprise Surprise.......Democrats Plan a Shorter Workweek - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-28-2007, 03:15 AM Thread Starter
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Surprise Surprise.......Democrats Plan a Shorter Workweek

Democrats Plan a Shorter Workweek

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26 — Shortly after winning a majority last year, Democrats triumphantly declared that they would put Congress back to work, promising an “end to the two-day workweek.” And indeed, the House has clocked more time in Washington this year than in any other session since 1995, when Republicans, newly in control, sought to make a similar point.

But 10 months into the session, with their legislative agenda often in gridlock with the Bush administration and a big election year looming, the Democrats are now planning a lighter schedule when the 110th Congress begins its second year in mid-January.

The House majority leader, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, told fellow Democrats this week that the House would not be in session next year on Fridays, except in June for work on appropriations bills.

Explaining that decision to reporters, Mr. Hoyer said, “I do intend to have more time for members to work in their districts and to be close to their families.”

His comments drew snickers from Republicans, who are quite happy to share their view that the American people did not get much value for all the extra time lawmakers spent in Washington.

“Is this a reward for our accomplishments in 2007?” asked Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri, the Republican whip.

And on Friday, President Bush once again hammered Congressional Democrats, accusing them of failing to meet basic responsibilities like approving annual budget bills and confirming his nominee for attorney general, Michael B. Mukasey.

“This is not what Congressional leaders promised when they took control of Congress earlier this year,” Mr. Bush said. “Congress needs to keep their promise, to stop wasting time, and get essential work done on behalf of the American people.”

The Democrats, by contrast, say that after 10 months of putting in longer days and weeks, they have made significant gains. They cited legislation, including an increase in the minimum wage and new ethics and lobbying rules, as well as in the nitty-gritty work of House committees, which they say has provided much-needed oversight of the Bush administration and will also set the stage for an ambitious agenda next year.

And they blame Mr. Bush and Republicans for Congress’s low approval ratings, which they say will only help the Democrats expand their majority in 2008.

“Certainly, it has been a sprint and a marathon at the same time this year,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “We have accomplished a lot, especially on the domestic front.”

Mr. Van Hollen said he was not worried about Congress’s low approval ratings. “Every one of those polls also shows much stronger support for Democratic leadership than Republican leadership,” he said. “The president is lashing out because he recognizes that people see the White House as an obstacle to change.”

Still, Democrats conceded that the hectic pace had taken a toll, especially on lawmakers who must travel long distances home and who have small children. And members of Congress have not gotten a raise or cost-of-living increase this year.

On Wednesday, the House cast its one-thousandth roll-call vote of the year, the first time that it reached that mark since the Constitution was ratified. Democrats hailed the occasion, while Republicans sniped that only 106 of the votes were on bills ultimately signed into law, and that 45 of those bestowed names on post offices or other property.

“Unlike Congress, the American people do not mistake motion for progress,” said Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter, Republican of Michigan. “They want results. And given the approval ratings, they are certainly convinced they aren’t getting them.”

Mr. McCotter said changing the schedule was an example of Democrats’ breaking promises. “They said ‘five-day weeks,’ ” he said. And he scoffed at the notion that Mr. Hoyer was also responding to Republicans who wanted more time in their home districts.

“I wish he had that much concern and was as responsive to Republicans’ calls for input on major legislation,” Mr. McCotter said.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, said the Democrats had to put in the hours to make up for Republican failings last year. “There was so much left undone by the 12 years of Republican control of the Congress, it was absolutely essential that we put our nose to the grindstone,” she said.

Ms. Wasserman Schultz has three children, 8-year-old twins and a 4-year-old. “It’s tough,” she said in a telephone interview from Orlando, where she had taken the children while she attended the Florida Democratic Convention there this weekend.

Mr. Blunt said he thought Democrats would regret this year’s schedule, which he said had distanced lawmakers from constituents.

Still, he said he and his colleagues would appreciate the Fridays out of session next year. “I would welcome, as I am sure all of our members would, a schedule that is more reflective of how the Congress should work,” Mr. Blunt said. “Rather than how it has worked in the last year.”

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-28-2007, 08:54 PM
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The Congressional "work" week can't be to short for me. I wish they'd just "work" one day a year when they come into session and then recess for the rest of the year! But realistically, let uncle Jayhawk explain how much they really work: Funny or Die Videos - Uncle Jay Explains the News - July 2, 2007 - by unclejay

Don't believe everything you think
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-28-2007, 10:48 PM Thread Starter
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^^^^Jaybird I could not disagree more. As a US tax payer who pays more than his fair share I expect the Congress to be in there working their butts off for us good and loyal thats right I forgot, under the current US tax laws I am not liable to pay that much, next to nothing as a matter of fact, well I still expect them to be in there working their butts off for us US passport holders living in another country
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