Unusual schedules in Congress this year have been said to contribute to the disconnect between the House and Senate. Unusual refers to the timing and duration of recesses — and the fact that they are not coordinated between the two chambers. A repeat appears to be in store for 2012.
The release from the House Republican majority said the calendar is a way to "create certainty, increase efficiency and productivity in the legislative process, protect committee time and afford members the opportunity to gain valuable input from their constituents at home." The last phrase may be the most important, translating to lots of time to raise funds and campaign for re-election.
House members will rarely be in Washington for more than two weeks at a time after a five-week opening stretch. The summer recess grows in length (from August 3 to September 10) partially due to the political conventions. District time is scheduled for October 5 through November 13.
On a side note, the last time Congress finished its business before the election was 1996.
Senate Democrats are said to be nowhere close to revealing their full calendar, although aides report that senators will be at work in several weeks when House members are back home and will plan recesses in several weeks when the House is in session.
Coming off a year of record low public approval and a lack of significant progress in so many areas, you would think the two sides might try something different. Or at least give the impression there would be an effort to work together by being in the same city at the same time.