Having ample time to debate on legislative matters is a vital step towards creating a functional Congress. But currently, and the Senate’s work schedule doesn’t look much different. Under Congress’s current schedule, Members typically only have one full day for committee hearings, developing and passing legislation in committees, and other business critical to legislating.
On top of that, the schedules for working days aren’t synchronized between the two chambers, which makes passing laws that much more difficult. Not only can this needlessly drag out the process, but one chamber can attempt to use the mismatched schedules to force the other chamber to adopt take-it-or-leave-it, must-pass legislation before they leave town – rather than engage in give-and-take between the two houses.
The Senate’s shortened recess schedule is a helpful step in ensuring Congress finishes its lengthy to-do list. However, there will be only 11 days after the House’s August recess when both chambers are in session before the new fiscal year begins on October 1—and Congress must approve multiple spending bills to avoid a government shutdown before then.
What can Congress do to avoid these last-minute debacles and hold itself accountable to getting the job done? The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform, a diverse group of civic leaders and former elected officials from across the political spectrum, issued a report with recommendations to revitalize Congress and strengthen our democracy. Among the list of recommendations is a synchronized, five-day workweek schedule with three weeks in session followed by one-week district work periods.
Here are three reasons why Congress needs a new schedule to function properly:
Implementing a new, more consistent schedule would not only allow Congress to do its job better, it would also make it more accountable to Americans. Tell your member of Congress that you want government to work better for you.