Let Congress Go Home For The Recess, Let Them Hear From The People

Instead of staying in Washington, Congress should go on recess so Members of Congress and Senators can hear from the people how the shutdown is impacting them.

As I noted earlier this week, the House and Senate have decided to forego much of the two-week recess that was scheduled to start at the close of business today due to the ongoing government shutdown. On some level, this makes sense given the optics that Congress going out of session for two weeks while the government remains shutdown would create. Among other things, it would seem to guarantee that the shutdown will continue for at least another fourteen days, putting it at 42 days long, and probably destined to go longer. From a public relations point of view, the prospect of Congress going on what many in the public might view as a vacation seems self-defeating and destined to cause political perception problems among members of the general public. Additionally, one could argue that keeping Congress in session during the next two weeks would, in some sense, be a punishment for failure to act on a shutdown that never should have happened and certainly should not have been allowed to go on this long.

On the other hand, it strikes me that there are good reasons to let Congress go out of town for what the calendar designates as a “District Work Period,” and it has everything to do with the current session. At this point, keeping the House and Senate in session doesn’t really accomplish anything with regard to the shutdown. There are no negotiations going on with respect to the shutdown, and to the extent that there are the parties involved would be White House representatives such as Vice-President Pence and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Congressional representatives that would include high-level staff representatives of the leadership of both parties in both Chambers, and perhaps members of the leadership itself. Additionally, such negotiations can easily be conducted over the phone or via video. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that a deal is reached, Congress can be recalled by the leadership on roughly 72 hours notice. After all, this isn’t the 18th or 19th Century when it took days or weeks for Members of Congress to make the journey from their home to Washington, D.C.  Therefore, there seems to be little reason to keep the rest of Congress in Washington.

So, here’s an idea. Let the Senators and Members of Congress go home to their respective Districts and states. Let them hear from the people who are being impacted by this shutdown on a daily basis. Let them get an earful from the people being  Let them get an earful from the people being directly impacted by this shutdown. Let them hear from people who are on the verge of falling two paychecks behind for the year with no prospect that they are going to get paid in sight. Let them hear from the people having to chose between paying the mortgage, the car, or some other necessary expense. Let them hear from parents who can’t afford their kid’s medical visits. Let them hear from people being forced to visit a Food Bank for the first time in their lives. Let them hear from Federal contractors and others being impacted by this shutdown who will not eventually be compensated for the losses they are suffering due to this shutdown. Let them hear from business owners and community leaders about the economic impact the shutdown is having in the towns and cities they represent. Let them be forced to listen to all of it. Then, let them explain why it’s all worth it in order to get a tiny fraction of money for a wall that most Americans don’t support, which will not be built, and which Mexico won’t pay for. Maybe, just maybe, this will cause them to come back to Washington in two weeks with a new perspective and maybe it will finally cause Republicans particularly to stand up to a President who apparently doesn’t give enough of a damn to act right now.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Congress, Deficit and Debt, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. mike shupp says:

    Uh….. shouldn’t some of those Congressmen meet with angry 2nd Amendment supporters?

    1
  2. Mr. Prosser says:

    They know d@mn well what’s going on at home and it won’t give them a new perspective. They don’t want to have to look at their constituents face to face ala Jeff Flake caught in an elevator. They’re all praying for a worker sickout so they have an excuse to override trump.

    2
  3. Gustopher says:

    I’m still baffled by the fact that congress critters cannot work from home. At least on public stuff. Voice votes won’t work, but do we need voice votes? Do we need congress critters hiding in a crowd?

    Anyway, we have skype. We have all sorts of options. It can al be broadcast on cspan.

    2
  4. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Sidebar – How you take care of each other in a crisis.

    This is why I’m a member of a Credit Union… Colorado Credit Union just sent this out to it’s members:

    Solutions for furloughed employees

    For those that are currently furloughed due to the government shutdown, CCU is offering solutions to help ease their hardship. For current members and new members, we are offering a 90-day no-interest, no-payment loan equivalent to two months’ net pay. For current members, we are also offering payment modifications on existing loans to help ease the burden of monthly payments.

    We are happy to assist furloughed federal employees during this situation. If you or someone you know is an affected government employee, please contact us today to see how we can assist you.

    That simple act turns a nightmare not-of-their-making into something that can be weathered well.

    14
  5. gVOR08 says:

    Send them home. I like the intent, or at least expectation, of the Framers. Legislating should be a part time job. A man should spend time tending to his farm or business.

    No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” – attributed to Mark Twain

    Some may actually get some feedback. Most could use a little time to reflect.

    That said, I just moved out of OH where my Representative (sic), Brad Wenstrup, would rather have a root canal than a town hall.

  6. John430 says:

    OR…they could all fly to Puerto Rico for a stage play of Hamilton. Oops! Democrats already did that.

    1
  7. grumpy realist says:

    @John430: And? I think the idea was to celebrate the island’s recovery from a hurricane.

    You gotta problem with that?

    7
  8. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist: I’m sure John 420 prefers Trump’s approach to Puerto Rico, which was to try to steal every last dime of their rebuilding and food aid.

    4
  9. Mr. Prosser says:

    @gVOR08: If they did go home they’ed be reflecting on the next fundraiser. Their business is money.

    2
  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    So, here’s an idea. Let the Senators and Members of Congress go home to their respective Districts and states. Let them hear from the people who are being impacted by this shutdown on a daily basis. Let them get an earful from the people being Let them get an earful from the people being directly impacted by this shutdown. Let them hear from people who are on the verge of falling two paychecks behind for the year with no prospect that they are going to get paid in sight. Let them hear from the people having to chose between paying the mortgage, the car, or some other necessary expense. Let them hear from parents who can’t afford their kid’s medical visits. Let them hear from people being forced to visit a Food Bank for the first time in their lives. Let them hear from Federal contractors and others being impacted by this shutdown who will not eventually be compensated for the losses they are suffering due to this shutdown. Let them hear from business owners and community leaders about the economic impact the shutdown is having in the towns and cities they represent. Let them be forced to listen to all of it.

    Mine are all in hiding. From Senator Roy “I’m not to sharp” Blunt, to Senator Josh “I’m already under investigation” Hawley, to Representative Jason “Go back to Puerto Rico” Smith, not one of them has a town hall scheduled.

    Cowardice, how again is it spelled? “R-e-p-u-b-l-i-c-a-n”.

    3
  11. al Ameda says:

    @John430:

    OR…they could all fly to Puerto Rico for a stage play of Hamilton. Oops! Democrats already did that.

    OR … they could all throw rolls of paper towels to the ‘little people’ as Trump did.

    3
  12. DrDaveT says:

    Let them stay in Washington, and let Washington provide them with the same level of service the nation as a whole is getting. No lunch out; we’re closed due to shutdown. No cabs or Ubers; they’re on vacation due to not enough business. No janitorial services. Skeleton crews at the security checkpoints, so it takes 30 minutes to get in the door in the morning.

    Maybe then it would start to sink in.

  13. rachel says:

    @Teve: A guy with a Bible verse for a nym might be a hypocrite?

    You don’t say.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @rachel: IIRC, John has stated that the ‘430’ in his nym has nothing to do with the Bible: John 4:30

    30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.

    I can’t imagine what a person might be trying to say by referring to that one single verse which is meaningless outside of it’s context.