I realize that Congress was originally constituted as a part-time body (members were only paid a per diem until 1815, when they started to earn a whopping $1500 per year), but, you know, we pay them like full time workers nowadays:
So why don’t they try working something approaching full time for a change?
And so, over the 14 weeks spanning the beginning of August and the middle of November, House members will work a grand total of eight days – out of a possible 103. And after today, they’ll be away from work for the next 54 days.
As Benen says, it’s fun to point at this and say, “Hey, it’s Congress, what the hell were they going to do if they stayed in session?” Well, for starters, how about their jobs?
Policymakers in Congress and the Executive Branch are rightfully focused on addressing the threat posed by the Islamic State. The White House maintains that it already possesses the legal authority for armed conflict against the Islamic State under the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF). This view is mistaken, and has received a critical reception from legal experts and members of Congress, some of whom have called for a new AUMF. In the past week, several new authorizations have already been proposed.
If Congress is to authorize the armed conflict, lawmakers should use this opportunity to construct a narrow AUMF for the sole purpose of countering the Islamic State that would set a high standard in terms of scope and duration for authorizations against terrorist organizations in the future. Constructing such a high-standard AUMF is crucial to preventing a new era of legal problems and uncertainty in executing major counterterrorism operations, like those that have plagued the 2001 AUMF over the past decade with respect to al-Qaeda.
I realize that this Congress (least productive ever!) probably wouldn’t have risked voting on a new AUMF even if they were going to be in session every day from now until the end of the year, but now that they’ve decided to shove off until after the elections there’s literally no chance they will.
The shocking thing is that there are Members of Congress who will openly argue that they’re underpaid, but from out here in the cheap seats, it looks like they’re doing pretty well on a per-hour basis.