Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell may not be able to fulfill all the promises made during the campaign, but as the incoming majority leader he already has lived up to one pledge – to make the Senate work five days a week.
According to the 2015 legislative calendar released on Thursday, senators will be required to work on Fridays, a change from the shorter schedule adopted by his predecessor Harry Reid, reports The Hill
The last day the Senate worked on a Friday was on December 20, 2013 when the chamber voted to confirm Janet Yellen to chair the Federal Reserve Board, according to Politico
Although it might appear to be a small change, requiring members to remain in Washington is a real break with tradition.
According to The Washington Post, since 1978, the House and Senate have been in session
less than a quarter of the time on Fridays.
The bipartisan No Labels group
welcomed the change, saying it is "important that the congressional work schedule facilitate legitimate opportunities to hash out compromise and build legislation" and working on Fridays constitutes a "good start" to getting Congress back to business.
"Under the current system if a plan falls through, most of the Senate is gone before there’s time to find a workable solution," the group said in a statement issued on Friday.
Voters are sure to welcome the change as well. An August Rasmussen Reports survey
found more than three-quarters of Americans (76 percent) said they worked harder than Congress, while only 10 percent thought the average member of Congress works harder than they do. In addition, 70 percent said members of Congress enjoy too much vacation time, according to the poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted on Aug. 12-13.
Reid flirted with the idea of implementing a longer work requirement, telling colleagues in July that in order to reduce the backlog of legislative items, "following the August recess we’re going to be here for two weeks and two days" and have "no weekends off," according to The Hill
Reid's threat, however, never came to fruition.
The House of Representatives has no five-day weeks
on its schedule, according to the 2015 calendar released by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office.
“District work weeks provide an invaluable opportunity for us to meet with and listen to our constituents,” McCarthy said in a statement announcing the calendar. “Discussing ideas and concerns is a critical function of our responsive, representative democracy, and for this reason, our schedule will continue to provide considerable time for constituent services in our district each month.”
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