Senate Dems plan more legislative workdays

Senate Democrats, fulfilling a campaign promise to schedule more workdays than their Republican counterparts did this session, will add nearly a month of workdays to the 2007 legislative calendar.

Jim Manley, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) spokesman, said, “It’s an important signal from Sen. Reid that there’s a lot to get done, and he’s prepared to keep the Senate in session as much as possible to get to work on these important issues.”

The Senate will reconvene on Jan. 4, two weeks earlier than it did this year. Traditionally, when the legislative and executive branches are controlled by the same party, the Senate recesses until the State of the Union address in the middle of January.

“If you’re the majority party and the president is of the same party, you’re going to wait for the president to tell you what to do,” said Senate Historian Don Ritchie. “If you’re of the opposition party, you have your own agenda, and don’t need to wait for the president.” Other than 2003, the last time the Senate convened before the State of the Union address was in 1995, after the Republican takeover of both houses of Congress during President Clinton’s first term.

Next year’s Democratic-controlled Senate will add more workdays by eliminating a weeklong March recess and cutting its April recess from two weeks to one. That recess will take place from April 2 to April 9.

Next year’s Senate schedule lists no target adjournment date, unlike the 2006 session’s recess on Oct. 8. This is due largely to 2007 not being an election year, so senators do not need to go home to campaign.

The 2007 schedule also includes at least 18 more workdays than the most recent non-election year of 2005. The 2005 Senate schedule included a two-week break that straddled March and April; it also included a light January agenda.

Other planned recesses this year include Jan. 15 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Feb. 19 to 23 for Presidents Day, May 28 to June 1 for Memorial Day, July 2-6 for Independence Day, and Aug. 6 to Sept. 3 for the traditional August recess.