Well, this is an awful idea: There’s a push on the Hill to require Congress to work five days a week

It might sound like a good idea, but the latest call to make Congress work more probably is the most dangerous piece of legislation we’ve seen since the “you’ve got to pass it to know what’s in it” ObamaCare atrocity. Sure, the logic is that the taxpayers are paying lawmakers a (more than) fair amount of money yearly, considering wages, benefits and perks. The problem is that unlike other professions, getting “more bang for the buck” definitely should not include forcing longer work hours, at least not on the Hill.

TheHill.com reports:

Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.) plans to introduce a bill that would require the House and Senate to work five days a week.

Congress is on a five-week August recess, which prevents Nolan from introducing his bill until the House comes back into session on Sept. 8.

The House and Senate rarely work five days a week in Washington. Each chamber typically is only in session for two full days and two half days per week, and lawmakers often spend the remaining half of the week back home in their districts.

Beyond requiring longer working hours, this bill would require open debate on all bills. While that might be a good idea, forcing longer sessions on the Hill definitely wouldn’t be a good idea. Our problem now is that we have far too many laws, so solutions to our problems do not include encouraging lawmakers to create more of them. Otherwise, it’s at least a little amusing to consider the irony that this bill hasn’t been introduced because Congress is in summer recess.

A better bill would include putting the Congress on a Texas-style legislative schedule. Requiring full debate and consideration of all bills is still a good idea, but instead of making lawmakers work five days a week on the Hill, it would be better to limit regular session each year to six months, like they do in Texas. Of course, if someone really wanted to make Congress stay in session longer, another option would be to say six months is for creating new laws, and six months to repeal laws only. Ideal would be a formula that leaves just three months for creating new laws, and the remainder of the year would be reserved for repeals.

Failing that, the Texas model is still better if lawmakers would be required to work five days a week, with six months in Washington, and the other half in their districts. There have been more than enough complaints by constituents claiming that their representatives on the Hill are not responsive to their needs and concerns. Since many lawmakers can’t figure out that they need to spend real time interacting with the people they represent, maybe a law forcing them to do so for half the year would be a good idea.

No, it’s not likely that anyone on the Hill would make the radical suggestion that while Congress generally doesn’t do the work it should for the people, if longer hours would be introduced they should be devoted primarily to undoing the damage done by over-legislating everything. If nothing else, Nolan has offered a litmus test of sorts for lawmakers. Anyone that comes out for this bill probably needs to leave the Hill — now.


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