June 29, 2013

The Ins And Outs, Yeas And Nays Of A Day In The US Congress

Very few people realize how busy the day of a US Congressman can be once they are elected to Congress. As a member of the United States House of Representatives they are on call at all times by their constituents, fellow congressmen, lobbyists, newspaper people and, of course, the President. Their typical day will start out at 8 am with a meeting and wind up at 8 pm with a reception or some other affair. Looking at one person’s schedule shows the hourly breakdown as follows, with the above hours.

congress

Total Time

Budget Meeting………………….. 45 minutes

Forum Meeting…………………… 30 minutes

Constituents Meetings (4 meetings)… 2 hours 45 minutes

Radio Telephone Interview………… 15 minutes

Radio Show Taped………………… 15 minutes

Hearing………………………… 1 hour 30 minutes

Legislation Meeting……………… 30 minutes

Receptions (3 receptions)………… 3 hours

This is one Congressman’s report. When researching others one will find different activities, such as working on political fundraising, writing Bills, sponsoring Amendments, planning Bills with other Congressmen and numerous other things. It appears that there are constant unexpected interruptions during the busy days and, sometimes nights. It seems that many of the Congressmen only spend four days in Washington. Some live there, others live in the nearby communities which they represent.

A congressman does not spend all of his time setting in the Congressional Session listening to debates regarding all the various Bills that are being presented. The Bills to be voted on are printed up ahead of time and sent to each Congressman’s office and they also receive a schedule regarding when discussion and voting is to be held. As a rule, he or she has assistants, in their office, who read the Bills and prepare a shorter version for the Congressman to read. Many of these Bills are hundreds of pages long and they simply do not have the time to personally read every word. They will read the shorter version, many times after they get home, in order to form an opinion as to how they want to vote.

On the day of the discussion, prior to a vote being taken on legislation, arguments will be heard pro and con. At that time a vote will be taken unless there is a motion made and passed to delay voting for one reason or another. Many times some new issue will be raised that was not in the original proposal and it will mean postponing the issue.

A full printout of each day’s actions is printed out and goes into the Congressional Record, with a copy to each Congressman. Again, it is reviewed by staff before being passed on in a shortened version. Because of the many people who wish to contact a Congressman’s day this is the reason that they have personnel to try to screen these contacts and set up an appointment if a staff member cannot handle the situation.

When Congress is not in session, the Congressman is either working on his own fundraising and election (if its his election year) or helping out a fellow Congressman with his campaign. Family times appear to be squeezed in wherever and whenever possible.

For more information, click here: http://thomas.loc.gov/

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