House cuts back on Fridays

The House is scheduled to be in session on only 15 Fridays in 2013, an almost 30 percent drop from 2011, according to the calendar released by House Majority leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Friday.

In 2011, there were 21 scheduled Fridays, compared to only 15 planned for 2013. Members will work only one Friday for nine months out of the year, and two Fridays for the other three months. Both 2011 and 2013 are non-election years.

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“It’s just a freak occurrence, it was nothing purposeful,” a leadership aide close to the process told The Hill. “What we start with are the traditional holidays — you block those off and then all key dates you need to be in session for, then we applied the new reforms so members west of the Mississippi have the ability to get home some and not just be limited to two-day weekends. Whatever flows from that is what we end up with.

“I hadn’t even noticed that there were substantially fewer Fridays and it wasn’t anything purposeful. It’s just how the holidays land,” the aide said.

The House kept a similar schedule in the 112th Congress, with members able to take a week off every month to return to their districts or campaign.

Cantor said every month except for June would accommodate for a “constituent work week” so members can return to their districts. In a letter to House members announcing the schedule, the House majority leader stressed the importance of this, and acknowledged the burden it puts on those who have to travel out west.

“Part of our goal in scheduling the House is to ensure that we never lose touch with the constituents we each represent while completing our work in Washington,” Cantor wrote.

“Time spent in the district between Monday and Friday is essential for meeting with small businesses, employees, seniors, veterans, and other local communities during working hours. We will continue to accommodate Members with longer distances to travel home and provide at least one constituent work week each month, with the exception of June.”

The 113th Congress will commence when new members are sworn in on Jan. 3, 2013.

“Part of our goal in scheduling the House is to ensure that we never lose touch with the constituents we each represent while completing our work in Washington,” Cantor continued in his letter. “Time spent in the district between Monday and Friday is essential for meeting with small businesses, employees, seniors, veterans, and other local communities during working hours.”



Reforms instituted in this year’s schedule include blocking off mornings for committee work and limiting floor votes in the afternoon, which Cantor says will bring “increased predictability to members’s schedules and efficiency to the committees and floor.”


“Our country faces enormous challenges in the months and years ahead,” Cantor concluded. “The House’s 2013 calendar is set — it is now up to us to find common ground to deliver results for the people who elect us.”

Senate majority whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also released the Senate calendar on Friday. The Senate will commence on Jan. 3, with the inauguration taking place on Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 21.