Congress: Here’s When We Won’t Be in Session

While Congress is limping to the finish line in 2010, calendars are already in place for 2011. The onoing joke is that America is safe when our representatives and senators are not in Washington. If you follow that philosophy, here’s when you can rest easy in the coming year.

The 112th Congress will convene Wednesday, Jan. 5. There’s no official date set for the State of the Union  address, but the night of Tuesday, Jan. 25, seems like a solid bet. The House GOP has set Dec. 8 as a target adjournment date; Senate Democrats long ago gave up on the notion of setting even a straw-man adjournment date. But the two chambers have very different plans for their time off beyond a shared recess week in February, two weeks off at the same time surrounding Easter in April and the same five-week August break.

These are the recesses planned next year:

  • Week of Jan. 17 (MLK Day) for the Senate only

  • Week of Jan. 31 for the House only

  • Week of Feb. 21 (Presidents Day) for both chambers

  • Week of March 21 for both chambers

  • Weeks of April 18 and April 25 for both chambers (Passover begins the evening of Monday, April 18; Easter Sunday is April 24)

  • Week of May 16 for the House

  • Week of May 30 (Memorial Day) for the Senate

  • Week of June 6 for the House

  • Week of June 27 for the House

  • Week of July 4 (Independence Day) for the Senate

  • Week of July 18 for the House

  • Week of Aug. 8 through Labor Day, Sept. 5, for both chambers

  • Week of Sept. 26 for both chambers

  • Week of Oct. 17 for the House

  • Week of Oct. 24 for the Senate, which has nothing noted on its calendar after that

  • Week of Nov. 7 for the House

  • Week of Nov. 21 (Thanksgiving) for the House

Reading Between the Congressional Work Schedule Lines

While Congress has an unusually busy December this year, don’t expect a repeat in 2010. House Democratic leaders have released a schedule that targets an October 8 adjournment.

In the words of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, "The House vote schedule for 2010 allows ample time for us to build on our work from this year, so that we continue creating jobs and addressing our nation’s long-term fiscal problems. The schedule also ensures that members have the opportunity to conduct important work in their districts and hear directly from their constituents about the challenges they are facing." 

In other words, time needs to be left to campaign with the elections for all House members less than a month away from the October 8 date. The usual recesses (summer period from August 9 to September 13 and weeklong breaks around Presidents Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Yom Kippur) are also in place.

House members seem to be in a never-ending campaign mode with their two-year terms. Should they serve longer or does the current system hold them accountable? Your thoughts are welcome.