Congress Does What? Things You Can’t Believe…

US Capitol Building

Congress Has a Long Vacation

One staggering statistic about Congress is just how much of the year it is not in session. If you take the average amount of days per year which Congress has met since 1977 you will find that the figure is just 140 days. Considering that most Americans spend around 250 days at work per year we have to wonder just exactly why Congress gets so much vacation time.

The American Constitution does not have much to say about the subject of how often that Congress should meet. In order to comply with Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution, Congress only has to meet one day of the year. If you look at the last 40 years, the most days in session for Congress was 170 days in 2011. A particularly lazy year in recent times was in 2006 when Congress met for just 101 days out of the year.

Why does Congress have such a long vacation? Supporters of this work schedule would say that attending Congress is only a very small part of what senators and representatives have to do to fulfil their role. They need to spend time back in the community making sure that they are in touch with the people who voted for them in order that they can best serve them in Congress. There is also the need for fund raising and political campaigning. Of course, the Hamptons and the Bahamas are really nice over the summer recess too.

Lobbying is Big Business

Lobbying is very big business in Congress. In 2015 $3.2 billion dollars was spent on lobbying in the United States Congress. That is more than the Gross Domestic Product of some small countries! It is thought that about $2.6 billion of this money came from corporations and the rest from individuals.

To put these figures into an even more concerning context, let us consider how much the combined budget is for Congress. At just under $2 billion for the Senate and the House we can really see just what a colossal amount of money corporations are spending on lobbying.

Lobbying is of course a very controversial subject. It has effectively been going on for as long as politics and government have existed, but the dollar numbers now make it a concern for many people. Large corporations have very large budgets which they can put into hiring more and more lobbyists.

Some corporations hire as many as 100 lobbyists to put over their point of view. That is a whole lot of potential influence for one company. With that much money being spent by a relatively small pool of corporations, this is a huge concern to many people.



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