3 reasons why it’s good Congress is on vacation

With ratings lower than cockroaches, Congress is smart to get out of town. Photo: Joint session of Congress on health care reform

WASHINGTON, August 5, 2013 — For those of you who lament Congress heading home for five weeks of vacation when there is still so much to do, just be glad they are out of town. At least they will cause less mischief than when they are up on Capitol Hill.

Besides, they weren’t doing that much anyway or doing much that is good for the country. Once home, they aren’t passing or repealing laws and that’s a good thing in itself.

With an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing Americans think members of Congress rate lower than cockroaches, it was definitely time for them to get out of town.

Congress claims the need to flee Washington for the solace of their districts or their states, where the media is local and friendlier than the school of sharks that seem to circle their every move D.C., tasting blood in the water. Or at least that is what they complain about, all the while jumping at any opportunity to get interviewed on Fox News or MSNBC to expound on the villainy of Washington, other Congressional members, Obama, and/or the government.

With them now out of town, we are spared that and more:

1. Until after Labor Day, we won’t have to see them mugging for the TV cameras while prattling on and on about their pet topics and regurgitating the latest Party talking points. Immigration, Obamacare, the debt ceiling, voting rights, gun control, Republican-Democratic bromances, sequestration, the Libertarian wing of the GOP, the Progressives, the dysfunctional Congress — they will all absorbed into the summer doldrums.

And then watch Congressional poll numbers climb. One recent poll found only 6% of registered voters approved of the job Congress was doing. Just being out of Washington will make people forget and maybe like them better. 

2. While they are out of town, Congress can do no harm.

Lights are on, but Congress is still on vacation

Sure they will be home, yammering about all the good they have wrought and all the evil they have thwarted. Members of Congress can recite those points in their sleep.

But they are far away from D.C. in sleepy Southern hamlets or big city neighborhoods or at county fairs, eating at the local hangout and lapsing into the dialect of their neck of the woods. They are going native.

So we are spared further cuts to essential services or increases to the Pentagon or a government shutdown. We are spared the threats of filibusters. We are spared pie charts and press releases.

It is quiet, a bipartisan quiet, and the good citizens of Washington can continue with their own lives, contending with heat and humidity without the hot air of Congress contributing to the heat index.

3. Congress isn’t holding umpteen hearings. Undoubtedly Congressional staff, interns and consultants have been left behind to gather “evidence,” scouring thousands of pages of records and emails as they look for high crimes and misdemeanors, but their bosses are not there.

That means a respite from the grandstanding by officious committee chairs as they stick government bureaucrats on the hot seat, hoping their sound bites make it to the evening news. So in August, no one will be talking about Benghazi, the IRS, NSA surveillance, or an Obama appointee. All of the hot air will be out of the Congressional balloon, at least for August.

And maybe  if we are lucky, most of these “scandal” will be old news come September when a real crisis for the government does loom.

For those of you fretting about your Representative or Senator coming home to corner you with his or her accomplishments and the latest talking points just issued by the Party, not to worry. Supposedly when Congress heads home, it is to listen to the people. To hear our voices. That alone should make a trip back their districts worth every minute they are away from the D.C. offices.

However, don’t count on seeing much of them. If they are staging a town hall meeting (and it will be staged by expert handlers), they will be very selective about where to speak. They will target their base. So if you are a Democrat, don’t expect to have your Republican members of Congress anywhere in your neighborhood, and they probably will be sure NOT to let you know where or when they are speaking. And if you are a Republican, don’t expect to see any Democrat ready to lend you an ear. There are exceptions — there always are — but they are far and few between.

There may be a handful of town hall meetings, but most of  Congress’ vacations will be spent on junkets to Paris to study the Euro or Istanbul for a confab on Islam or Bali to better understand our early warning system for tsunamis.

Then another week will probably be somewhere else for an escape from the all the hard work they do on our behalf when they are putting in those exhausting three-day weeks on the Hill.

Sadly, that week of respite just might be enough to energize them to come barreling back in September ready to do even more of mischief.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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