Living and Working in DC...or not. Posted by: Jon Henke
on Thursday, December 07, 2006
I understand the difficulty of working in a place many hundreds, maybe even thousands, of miles from your family, your constituents and your home — and I'm no fan of Congress being in session more than is absolutely necessary — but this comment by Rep. Jack Kingston was tone-deaf and misguided.
"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families — that's what this says."
On the one hand, exactly how much work gets done in session? I don't know, but it could be that the amount of work is fairly fungible. You can stretch it over 5 days, or you can prepare for it and do it in 2-3, leaving time to visit family and constituents, and to study up on the issues on which you'll vote. And Kingston's response to all of this is worth understanding:
Serving in Congress is actually a 60-70 hour a week, two-part job. The first, and more visible of the two, is legislative and D.C.-based. It involves voting for legislation, debate, Committee and Caucus work, etc. — the stuff you see on C-SPAN. But the other major part of the job which often goes unnoticed is back home in the district — listening and learning.
For example, last year I hosted 25 town hall meetings regarding Medicare Part D. The year before that I held 17 town hall meetings on Social Security. In addition I made over 200 speeches and meetings with Veteran groups, farmers, energy, tax, health care, educators, and environmental groups. And I met with many individuals who had problems with the federal government — people who don't have business cards and don't know doctors and lawyers personally. These are the people who don't have lobbyists, the time, or the budgets which allow them to come to Washington and meet with me.
Meeting with these groups gives me much needed, unfiltered, outside-the-Beltway information and it counterbalances the influence of Washington - party politics, interest groups, and PAC money. Spending more time in Washington means Members are less in touch with those that they represent. It gives us legislation born within the beltway, passed within the beltway, and supported by the beltway brokers. That formula is bad for America.
Republicans, my Party, lost the majority for a number of reasons - scandals, spending, 'the bridge to nowhere,' Iraq, and history, but the primary reason is that we didn't deliver. We didn't resolve issues from immigration reform, permanent tax relief and tax simplification, health care affordability, fuel independence, etc.
On the other hand, the idea that it's asking too much of Congressmen to work 5 days a week is absurd; presumably, Congressional staffers (even those with family out of town) are asked to work 5 day weeks or more. Plus, more time in session and in DC means less time fundraising...and to the extent that less time fundraising minimizes the incumbent advantage, it's a plus in my book.
our elected officials will have to actually work for their salaries. I had no idea that they were such proponents of a 3-day workweek. I'm sure they'll be writing legislation to give the rest of us that right, what with them being all "pro-family" and all.
Apparently, it also says that there's a law against members moving their families to Washington D.C.
[A]side from the expense of [moving your family to DC], there are political considerations, namely that political opportunists like Kos will use it as a way to attack you. Remember the vitriolic attacks against Rick Santorum? Santorum did move his family to DC because he wanted to be close to his young kids. But he received nothing but criticism from the Kos crowd. Witness this post from Daily Kos in which Santorum was criticized for exactly this issue
When a Senator did move his family to DC, what did the DailyKos blogger write? That "If you are not a resident of the state, you aren’t allowed to run for the U.S. Senate", that "Santorum needs to convince the voters of Pennsylvania that he lives among them and not just an out-of-towner who used to live here when he was first elected" and that they should investigate the family's home ownership background. That's only the tip of the "Rick Santorum doesn't live in PA anymore, get him!" iceberg at DailyKos, as well as in the blogosphere and mainstream media.
This is why the country will continue to become more and more partisan. They are most interested in winning and power by whatever means / distortions (reference mk). Sometimes it makes you wonder what deficiency the MKUltra crowd is trying to make up for?? To many dodgeballs to the head in gym?? Sorry, Not!
By the way MKUltra I’m for traffic circles purely for the political reason that it is basically a constant "right" turn.
While I’m generally disposed to bash Congress, I think this thread is a misunderstanding of the way it works. When they’re at home, they’re not generally on the golf course (some are, but rogues inhabit every discipline.)
Instead, they often go from meeting to grand opening to fundraiser and back. Most of what Congress does isn’t sitting in the hall listening to speeches, or sitting in committee rooms hearing testimony. It’s "other". Only the "rock star" reps get to take it easy, and those that do risk losing that status. It’s a grueling life.
No kidding Larry. Aside from the fact that I’d generally like to see Congress meet even less (fewer opportunities for mischief), the LAST thing we need is for members to spend less time in their districts, and more time in Washington. I thought that was what the netroots wanted, after all — y’know, more grassroots, people-powered politics and whatnot.