House GOP unveils changes to legislative calendar
Updated: 4:05 p.m.
House members will be spending more time in their home districts and using their time in Washington more effectively, according to a new calendar for the 112th Congress unveiled Wednesday by House Majority Leader-designate Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
The new schedule, announced by Cantor in a letter to his Republican colleagues, calls for the House to operate on a two-weeks-on, one-week-off schedule. In 2011, the House will be in session for 123 days -- about the same number of days as in previous years, according to Cantor's office -- but those days would be condensed into 32 four- and five-day work weeks, an 11 percent drop in the number of weeks in session.
The end result, according to Cantor's office, will mean lower costs for taxpayers, who foot the bill for members' travel; it will also mean more time for members to meet with constituents in their home districts, a political boon for incoming freshmen, most of whom are Republicans.
According to outgoing House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's (D-Md.) office, in 2007, the House was scheduled to be in session for 145 days and was actually in session for 152 days. In 2009, the House was scheduled to be in session for 138 days; the final number of days in session was 148.
The new calendar also extends the House's target adjournment date to December. That would mark a departure from previous Congresses, which have tended to set their adjournment dates for September only to continue in session well after that date.
"Including this year, the House has not adjourned until December for eight straight years," Cantor wrote to his GOP colleagues. "Therefore, the House's target adjournment has been moved from the end of the fiscal year to Thursday, December 8, in order to better reflect the anticipated workload of the Congress. This will allow Members to plan their fall and early winter schedules now. If we are able to adjourn before December 8, it will be the first time in fourteen years that the House has finished prior to its target adjournment date."
In addition to the new calendar, Republicans are rolling out a series of other changes to the way the House operates, including providing three days for members of the public to review legislation before it is considered on the floor or in committee and wrapping up voting no later than 7 p.m.
House Republicans announced several other proposed rules changes last month including doing away with most resolutions that commemorate sports teams or individuals or designate special days.
Hoyer issued a statement Wednesday acknowledging the proposed changes.
"Our nation will still be facing a number of critical challenges that we must confront together next year," Hoyer said. "We will work to address the top concerns of the American people during the next Congress, including creating jobs, growing the economy, and balancing the budget in the long-term. We hope Republicans will work with us on those issues."
Asked about the new House schedule, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) responded: "If that's the schedule they think they need, they can have it."
"I've got enough to do to deal with my schedule here," he added.
| December 8, 2010; 1:52 PM ET
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