GOP Rebels Fight 5-Day Workweek

House Speaker-elect Bob Livingston has touched off a revolt among GOP House members by proposing a five-day workweek.

Dozens of Republican representatives have signed a petition opposing Livingston's plan to make them work from Monday to Friday.

Georgia GOP Rep. Jack Kingston is leading the opposition to the plan. The petition urges Livingston not to change the three-day-a-week legislative schedule used by outgoing Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Foes of the Livingston proposal say it would be particularly burdensome to members from the West Coast who must travel back and forth from their home districts to Washington.

"You can't be in Washington five days a week and service your district," Kingston said. "I'm just enough of a populist to believe that the real action is on the streets of America and not in Washington."

Livingston floated the idea of a five-day workweek in a personal letter to Gingrich just before he launched his successful challenge to the Georgia lawmaker.

"We should have longer workweeks and fewer holidays," Livingston said in the letter, outlining a legislative week with votes beginning late Monday afternoon and ending at noon Friday.

Under Gingrich, the House typically had votes beginning Tuesday and ending late Thursday. That schedule frequently required late-night sessions in midweek, which Livingston said he wants to avoid.

Part of the rationale behind Livingston's proposal is that the House failed this year to complete its most basic assignment, passing the 13 spending bills that are needed each year to keep the government running.

Livingston aides said he has not made a final decision on the five-day workweek proposal.

To buttress his petition against the longer workweek, Kingston sent Livingston the results of a survey of members taken following the hectic first 100 days of the 104th Congress, when Republicans pushed through their Contract with America.

Kingston said four freshmen in that Congress ended up divorced and countless others reported family problems they blamed on the long sessions.

"There was all kind of stress and strains, more friction and more animosity, more partisanship," Kingston said. "It became counterproductive to what we were trying to achieve."

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