Do something, Congress

For Immediate Release:

December 9, 2006

Contact:The Seatle Times

Get to work — no, really, a true honest week of work. No more of these fly-in-fly-out, three-day affairs.

That appropriate message comes from the new Democratic House majority leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, who writes the schedule for the new Congress. Next year, Hoyer wants House members to be at the Capitol for votes by 6:30 p.m. Monday and to stick around — oh, the shock — until 2 p.m. Friday. Those half-weeks favored by Republicans this past election year send the wrong message and underscore the fair impression that Congress runs around in circles and doesn't accomplish much. For further details, see results of the latest congressional election. Wham!

Voters have had it with the do-nothing 109th Congress, which worked 103 days — seven days fewer than the infamous "Do-Nothing Congress" of 1948.

It's all so embarrassing. This Congress was so busy doing ... not much. It had plenty of time to run hot-button matters they knew wouldn't pass, such as bans on flag-burning and gay marriage. But la-di-da, it ran out of time to perform the basic duty of approving spending bills that fund the government.

So here come the Democrats talking a very good game about running a more businesslike Congress. For many weeks, it was standard practice for members of Congress to get to work late Tuesday and run for the airport by Thursday. That's a mid-week weekend.

No joke.

Gone, too, will be the six-day break for Memorial Day, which is one day for the rest of America. Not to worry. Hoyer didn't say anything about the August recess and the April and February recesses. Recess is their middle name.

Members of Congress work hard once they arrive in Washington, and many, especially from the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii, spend a day traveling to D.C. from far-flung districts.

But that is the job they sought. Democrats want to rack up accomplishments to brag about in the 2008 election. Getting the members of Congress to the Capitol to work in a more businesslike manner is a fine start.

The proof will be in the legislation passed.