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Congress appears to be absent

This is what I have observed from a number of open sources regarding congressional sessions.

We have or should have been taught that the United States government is divided into three branches: the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judicial branch. Each branch has a different duty, but all three branches must work together.

It is the legislative branch that makes the laws and thus approves the annual federal budget and recommends the appropriations. The U.S. Congress, composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives, handles that chore in America, but where are they?

According to available records, the House of Representatives has averaged 146.7 “legislative days” a year since 2001. That’s about one day of work every two and a half days. The Senate, on the other hand, was in session an average of 165 days a year over the same time period. If those numbers seems a “bit” low, that’s because the average American spends about 250 days out of the year in their workplaces.

Members try to convince us that the changes to the House schedule implemented in 2011 allow them to spend more time with constituents. The leadership significantly increased the number of recesses from five to 13 in 2011, and it scheduled 11 recesses in 2012 and 11 recesses in 2013. The number of Mondays through Fridays available for district events grew exponentially. Did ya see ‘em? If you don’t give them money, you seldom if ever hear from them at all.

Some members of Congress fill their time back in the district or state. Of course, their transportation is paid for by taxpayers and many are accompanied by staff and publicly paid for security details. They maintain that they are conducting tours of businesses, meeting with constituent groups and interacting with local officials.

Others seem to dismiss those interactions as having no purpose and simply languish at home with families and friends for days on end, while being covered by a different health plan than the rest of us, always getting paid and looking forward to their endless retirement benefits.

Note: Of course, nearly every member of Congress has multiple retirement plans and their defined benefits are not negatively impacted by stock market recessions. Congress also has the unique position of determining its own benefits without having to worry about turning a profit. A private company may have to freeze its pension plan or perform a buyout if it experiences balance sheet problems, but the U.S. Congress must only appropriate more of our tax dollars.

Isn’t it funny how nearly two-thirds (62 percent) report that the new schedule has allowed them to spend more time with their families. Is this what they were elected to do or were they elected to represent us and to establish the laws of the land?

Many Nevadans are currently unemployed and many businesses are struggling to determine what the future may bring, if there is to be a future. Congress, where are you?

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