Jul 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

By the numbers: Clocking the House

Data: Brookings Institution, United States Senate; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios
Data: Brookings Institution, United States Senate; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Like their Senate colleagues, House members are spending more days in session than past congresses — but far fewer hours per day on average, according to data from the Brookings Institution and the U.S. Senate.

Why it matters: The Senate may have come to an agreement on the bipartisan infrastructure package on Wednesday, but it still faces chaos in the House — and threatens to cut short representatives’ August recess late next month.

  • While House members spent less than 4 hours per day in session during the 116th Congress, from 2019 through 2020, a big part of their jobs includes spending time in their districts.
  • There's only data for half a year, but the 117th Congress has spent an average of 4 1/2 hours per day in session, so far.

The big picture: Although the House also had to shorten its August recess in 2010 and 1994, the summer break has generally gotten longer for representatives during election years, according to Pew Research Center.

  • The House spent an average of 17 days on August recess during election years between 1972 and 1982. That rose to 36 days between 2006 and 2016.
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