Your Tax Dollars At Work...Or Maybe Not

(AP)
When Democrats won control of Congress, they launched an ambitious agenda: they pledged to change "do nothing" to "do something"; they vowed to restore the image of Congress; and they promised drastic measures...drastic!

A five-day work week!

"We will be working almost every day in January," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD told reporters.

Fast forward to today.

The new House, as controlled by Democrats, has yet to work one of those five-day work weeks. I'm not saying there aren't good reasons for the short weeks. But when you set yourselves up as the guys who are going to change everything, people (well, reporters anyway) tend to kind of watch to see what happens.

Here's what's happened.

The first week was a partial week because it included the New Year holiday.

The second week, the House mysteriously scheduled Monday off. (Some have speculated it was so they could enjoy watching the unofficial college football championship which happened to be that evening, but other sources deny it).

Then there's the third week. That was the one with the Martin Luther King, Junior holiday.

The fourth week? Republicans headed off to their retreat, cutting the work week short.

The fifth week (that's this week): Democrats are ducking out for a retreat of their own.

Good reasons, perhaps. But Republicans might argue they had pretty good reasons of their own when they didn't work five day weeks. (House Democrats might counter that they accomplished more in their so-called "hundred hours" than Republicans ever dreamed of when the G.O.P. was running the show. Republicans might say that keeping bad legislation from passing is as important as putting through good bills. Democrats might beg to differ. And so on.)

But I digress.

From where I sit, they all look like they work pretty hard to me. I mean it. Both in the House and Senate, members from both parties (and Independents, too) are often up early, here late, and keeping me running at breakneck speed to try to catch them for a chat or an interview. Their schedules are so tight, that they're often quite literally running between votes, meetings, hearings, negotiations, interviews and press conferences. They're multi-tasking a multitude of national and global issues and smiling for the cameras, too.

I also think we're giving them a raw deal to imply they're not working when they're not here. On their "days off," most of them have to hop on a plane, jump on a train, or climb into a car and commute to home districts. Remember, some of them live as far away as Alaska and Hawaii. It might as well be as far as Europe. Once home, they have families to tend to and constituents who expect attention...and don't forget the fundraising to make it all happen again next time.

Update: Until late this afternoon, we thought that next week, the sixth week, was going to be the charm: a five day work week. But Majority Leader Hoyer just announced they'll be taking Friday off. They're on a roll!



  • Sharyl Attkisson On Twitter»

    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.

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