Congress will only work eight days in the next three months, and are on pace to pass the fewest bills in sixty years, but for every hour that they are in DC, each member of Congress earns at least $608/hour.
Congress will be in session for only eight days during a 102-day span between Aug. 1 and Nov. 12, when lawmakers are set to return for a lame-duck session after the elections.
Because the annual salary for members of the House is $174,000, their hourly wage for those eight days amounts to $608 per hour, presuming 10-hour workdays.
The House left for a five-week vacation from Washington on Aug. 1 and didn’t return until Sept. 8. After two four-day workweeks, it left again Thursday and is not due to return until Nov. 12.
Members of Congress and their staffers reply that they work when not in D.C., but estimates over the last few years have found that members of Congress spend 25%-50% of their time fundraising. It is clear that actually doing the job of legislating comes second to campaigning and raising money.
It is doubtful that people would have much of an issue with the congressional pay rate if Congress were doing something. This Congress is on pace the past the fewest bills in sixty years. The Republican led House showed how little they care by leaving work early so that they could go on a seven week paid vacation.
The money isn’t the issue. It is the lack of return that taxpayers are getting on their investment. When Democrats controlled the House, nobody complained about congressional salaries during Nancy Pelosi’s extremely productive run as Speaker. The difference is a matter of ideology. Boehner and the Republicans believe that they were sent to Washington to obstruct President Obama. They believe that doing nothing is their job.
In 2013, Speaker Boehner claimed that the American people don’t want a Congress that passes laws, “We should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal. We’ve got more laws than the administration could ever enforce. And so we don’t do commemorative bills on the floor. We don’t do all that nonsense. We deal with what the American people want us to deal with. Unpopular? Yes. Why? We’re in a divided government. We’re fighting for what we believe in. Sometimes, you know, the American people don’t like this mess.”
House Republicans have gone from not passing laws to not showing up.
Every day brings a new insult, which is why the Republican majority in the House has got to go.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association