Incoming Tea Party-backed Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) wasted no time butting heads with his future GOP leaders Thursday, writing a letter to House Majority Leader-in-waiting Eric Cantor to complain about the meager nature of the upcoming Congressional calendar.
"As we know, Congress needs to work to create jobs, reduce the deficit, strengthen our economy, limit the size of government and contend with a plethora of national security issues," West wrote in a statement to Cantor. "How are we to do that when, among other things, we start off being in session only ten days the entire month of January?"
Cantor's legislative calendar includes 123 days of congressional sessions interspersed with the typical week-long -- and in some cases longer -- breaks to provide representatives with ample time for holiday vacations, trips to home districts to engage in constituent outreach, and other purposes.
But West is taking his anti-establishment discourse straight to the heart of Republican leadership, arguing that the traditional days off are a sign of the ineffective and lackadaisical nature that has come to define Congress, especially among his Tea Party constituents.
"We have to show the American people we are going to be different than years past," West said. "We are there for one reason and one reason only, to work for the constituents of the districts we are so privileged to represent. I hope that if it becomes clear that we are not meeting the promise we made to the American people, leadership will modify the schedule in order for us to accomplish the important task we have before us."
Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring defended the workload of the schedule Thursday, saying that West was wrong in his belief that more time in Washington would result in a more productive agenda.
"More days in session has always resulted in bigger, more intrusive government, not more production. What matters is who's in charge and the process put in place, not the number of days in session," said Dayspring, according to The Hill. "The newly elected Republican class is pleased that the schedule allows for greater certainty, increased oversight and more time spent in districts listening to constituents, small business people and families and less time in Washington promoting bigger government."
For West's entire letter, check out the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's coverage.
Here's the 2011 Congressional calendar: