I would like to share with you, in case you missed it, my discussion from over at the Perpetual Post of how many more days off a year the Senate has than we do. I think it’s even more apropos right now.
MOLLY SCHOEMANN: When our Senators, their upper lips trembling and brows sweating in sheer amazement at the brute strength of their own astounding willpower, conceded that instead of taking a week off for the July Fourth holiday, they would instead stay in Washington and continue to prop up our failing budget, it gave me pause.
They get a whole week off? For the Fourth of July holiday? I’m not positive about this, but I’m pretty certain that most of us got just one day off. The fourth day of July, to be exact. And that’s if we are lucky— those of us who work in retail, food service or used car sales do not in fact generally have that day off, let alone the entire week. Maybe the Senate just needs the additional time to be extra patriotic?
I decided to investigate the matter further, went online and in a few minutes dug up the Senate’s tentative annual calendar, which is available in a handy .pdf form so that you can see just exactly how many days out of the year our Senators are not in session. It’s a lot of days! So many days, in fact, that I wondered why they were so sad to give up that week in July.
I suppose it IS the only entire week that they have off in July—although they DID just have an entire week off in June, and they DO have the entire month of August off. And the first week of September. Oh, and the last week of September. Also, most of January.
To make it easy for you, since I know you don’t have a lot of free time, unlike the Senate, I even did the math.
First off, of course there are 365 days in a year. Assuming that weekends count for approximately 104 days a year, if you subtract those, that leaves 261 working days in a year. Let’s also be generous and subtract 1 holiday a month, average, (although not many jobs give you 1 holiday off a month) leaving 249 days a year.
Going by their online calendar, the Senate is in session for 192 days a year. Subtract that from 249 available working days: that leaves 57 working days a year when the Senate is not in session.
“But Molly,” you’re thinking. “Senators have plenty of other things that they have to be doing when they’re not actually in session. They are probably using those other days to meet with constituents and do other Senatorey things that they can’t do while they are in session.”
To that I say, Sure! Certainly Senators need some time to schedule in travel for in-person meetings and to do other work. But really, don’t you think that with the advent of the telephone, email, video conferencing and other marvels of modern technology which have given many workers across the globe the ability to telecommute and to work excruciatingly demanding hours—wouldn’t some of those conveniences apply to our Senate? Couldn’t they be used to shave off some of that required extra time? Do our Senators have to meet with their constituents in person? Do they really need that much time off?
Not only that, but I don’t think that a lot of those session-free weeks are intended to be working weeks—if they were, would five of them (five weeks!) be scheduled around a national holiday? This leads me to believe that those session-less weeks are not intended to be a time for our Senators to be having meetings and doing work, since they’re during a time when most working people schedule their vacations.
There are in fact only two months out of the year when our Senators do NOT have an entire week when they are not in session. But don’t worry, they have a long weekend in each of those months. I’m sure they really need it by then!