The Congressional Schedule

This is one of the "break" weeks that Congress has built into its yearly schedule.  If you don't live in the Capitol Hill bubble, it probably doesn't make much sense, but inside, it does.

Like most people, lawmakers in Congress produce more when they have a reason to produce.

And the best reason that anyone has is to get the hell out of Washington, D.C.

So break weeks like this one for Memorial Day become "pressure points" in the Congressional schedule, which allow leaders to push through legislation that otherwise might just bumble along for weeks on end.

In other words, you try to cram as much onto the agenda in the days before a break starts, and hope that no one does the unthinkable and tries to delay ten days outside of the District of Columbia.

Most of the time, it works.

We call it the Power of the Almighty Airline Schedule.

The odd thing for many outside DC is that there is a regular ebb and flow to the wacky/zany Congressional schedule and pace of work.  Things start slow and then reach a crescendo just before lawmakers go on a break.

Then they return and repeat the same process.

For example, when the House and Senate come back on June 1, lawmakers will then have a four week to run a week long break for July 4th.

Week one will be sort of slow, like anyone getting back to work after a ten day break.

Week two picks up some speed, even more in week three, and then all hell breaks loose on some big issues that must be pushed through the House and Senate in week four.

After the July 4th break, the House and Senate will then have a four or five week run to the August recess, where Congress takes off until after Labor Day, which often makes July into one of the busiest months of the year.

For most staffers, August is the Holy Grail. The boss finally leaves town and things are quiet.

There has to be something really big for an August Recess to get cancelled.

Hmmmm, I was wondering when the last one was cut short by big time legislative activity?

Bzzzzzzt.

The answer I thought of first? 1994, when the Senate stayed in session until like August 19.

What were they working on? Health care reform.

The worst part was that we had to work deep into August, and the Senate had nothing to show for that extra effort, because the bill collapsed.

I wonder when we will start hearing the threats of working into August on health care in 2009?

This is one of the "break" weeks that Congress has built into its yearly schedule.  If you don't live in the Capitol Hill bubble, it probably doesn't make much sense, but inside, it does. Like most people, lawmakers in Congress produce more when they have a reason to produce. And ...

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