Hoyer: House to Work 4 1/2 Days a Week

Incoming House majority leader Steny Hoyer dropped a bombshell on his 434 fellow representatives this week: they’re going to have to give up their four-day weekends.

Next year, members of the House will be expected in the Capitol for votes each week by 6:30 p.m. Monday and will finish their business about 2 p.m. Friday, Hoyer said.

With the new calendar, the Democrats are trying to project a businesslike image when they take control of Congress in January. House and Senate Democratic leaders have announced an ambitious agenda for their first 100 hours and say they are adamant about scoring legislative victories they can trumpet in the 2008 campaigns.

Hoyer and other Democratic leaders say they are trying to repair the image of Congress, which was so anemic this year it could not meet a basic duty: to approve spending bills that fund government. By the time the gavel comes down on the 109th Congress on Friday, members will have worked a total of 103 days. That’s seven days fewer than the infamous “Do-Nothing Congress” of 1948.

Hoyer said members can bid farewell to extended holidays, the kind that awarded them six weekdays to relax around Memorial Day, when most Americans get a single day off. He didn’t mention the month-long August recess, the two-week April recess or the weeks off in February, March and July.

He said members need to spend more time in the Capitol to pass laws and oversee federal agencies. “We are going to meet sufficient times, so the committees can do their jobs on behalf of the American people,” he said.

Does anyone else get the feeling this wasn’t part of Hoyer’s stump speech when he was running against John Murtha for the leadership post?

See also Viking Pundit and Captain’s Quarters.

UPDATE (James Joyner): While this all sounds well and good, the expectation has arisen that Members spend a lot of time in their districts. And, frankly, they are used to having the time to devote to fundraising.

My guess is this goes by the wayside after an initial flurry of activity.

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Chris Lawrence
About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi. He began writing for OTB in June 2006. Follow him on Twitter @lordsutch.


  1. Bithead says:

    A longer work week for Congress, implies nothing but a more interventionist Congress. Keep your hand on your wallet, folks.

    But then, you knew that before.