There are no hearings scheduled for the week ahead as members of Congress left Washington this past weekend for the annual Fourth of July recess. Each recess is typically met with at least a couple of media stories about how it is ill-timed or even undeserved vacation. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s a vacation. Last week, Roll Call, the pre-eminent publication for Capitol Hill and everyone who follows it closely, highlighted some findings from a Congressional Management Foundation survey about members’ work habits and how they spend time on recess.
“Life in Congress: The Member Perspective,” released in March, showed that members of Congress typically put in 70 hour work weeks while in Washington—and 59 hour work weeks while on recess. Many of us are guilty of checking and responding to email while on vacation, but 59 hours doesn’t sound like much of a vacation. So what do they do during those 59 hours?
According to the story in Roll Call:
According to the CMF survey of legislators, the top activity during recess was “Constituent Services Work” (32 percent), followed by “Political Campaign Work” (18 percent) and “Press/Media Relations” (14 percent). It’ll probably shock most Americans to know that members of Congress actually think that interacting with the people who elected them is a big part of their job. When legislators were asked to rank by importance the work they do, “staying in touch with constituents” was at the top of the list. Perhaps this is one of the reasons citizens consistently rate their own member of Congress highly but rate the institution lowly.
The report is available in PDF from the Congressional Management Foundation as well as a short video summary of the key findings below.
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