No Fix Apparent for Congressional Schedules

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.

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