Here's How Much Less Congress Works Than You Do

Ordinary Americans clock about 240 days at work. Congress works a lot less.

August 4, 2014, 1:29 PM
PHOTO: Members Congress clinb the steps of the House of Representatives for final votes, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, July 31, 2014.
Members Congress clinb the steps of the House of Representatives for final votes, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, July 31, 2014. Congress ran full-tilt into election-year gridlock over immigration Thursday and staggered toward a five-week summer break with no agreement in sight on legislation to cope with the influx of young immigrants flocking illegally to the United States.
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

— -- On track to become one of the least productive in modern history, the 113th Congress isn’t exactly popular.

Despite their failure to address the border crisis, lawmakers have now officially gone home for a few weeks of R&R.

For many on Capitol Hill, the August recess began a day later than planned, due to House Republicans’ last-ditch effort to produce the urgently-needed border bill.

But the addition of an extra work day isn’t exactly a catastrophe in the life of a congressman. In fact, your elected officials in Washington work about a hundred days less than you do.

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The House is scheduled to be in session in Washington a total of 133 days this year. The Senate will be in session about the same amount or a few days more.

But if you’re an ordinary American worker with two weeks of vacation and federal holidays off, you’re likely clocking in around 240 days a year at the office.

Of course, when lawmakers are on recess, it’s often considered a “work week” in their districts –- but they’re not getting much legislating done away from the nation’s capital. And though lawmakers often participate in constituent meetings and fundraisers, they’re not actually required to work at all. In fact, the summer break is mandated by law, though members could postpone or abridge it if they really wanted to.

But they’re still paid for the days they’re in recess –- and with a taxpayer-funded base salary of $174,000 a year, that amounts to about $16,000 for the summer break alone. And party leaders make even more.

In an election year, the number of days spent on Capitol Hill dwindle even further, especially in the months closest to November.

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, vowed this week to keep the Senate in session every weekend in September in order to get out a little bit earlier before Election Day.

“Everyone needs to know there will be no weekends off in September,” Reid said. “No one should plan anything on the weekends.”

In 2012, the House was in session for 153 days. During the 2010 midterm elections when Republicans took over the chamber, the House was in session 128 days. In 2008, they were here 119 days and in 2006, they were here a mere 104 days.

ABC News' John Parkinson contributed to this report.

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