As the highly unpopular and woefully unproductive Congress racks up dishonors, The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim and Sabrina Siddiqui reported this week that congressional lawmakers spend very little time actually dedicated to the task of governing:
A PowerPoint presentation to incoming freshmen by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, obtained by The Huffington Post, lays out the dreary existence awaiting these new back-benchers. The daily schedule prescribed by the Democratic leadership contemplates a nine or 10-hour day while in Washington. Of that, four hours are to be spent in "call time" and another hour is blocked off for "strategic outreach," which includes fundraisers and press work. An hour is walled off to "recharge," and three to four hours are designated for the actual work of being a member of Congress -- hearings, votes, and meetings with constituents. If the constituents are donors, all the better. The presentation assured members that their fundraising would be closely monitored; the Federal Election Commission requires members to file quarterly reports.
Congressional hearings and fundraising duties often conflict, and members of Congress have little difficulty deciding between the two -- occasionally even raising money from the industry covered by the hearings they skip. It is considered poor form in Congress -- borderline self-indulgent -- for a freshman to sit at length in congressional hearings when the time could instead be spent raising money. Even members in safe districts are expected to keep up the torrid fundraising pace, so that they can contribute to vulnerable colleagues.
Former Democratic Reps. Brad Miller (N.C.) and Tom Perriello (Va.) joined returning Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) on HuffPost Live Wednesday to explain exactly how congressional duties are driven by grueling fundraising schedules.
Watch the segment above.