Former Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe has a novel and innovative idea for how Congress could break gridlock and be more productive: instituting a five-day work week.
In her new book, which she discussed during an interview Monday with NPR, Snowe suggests that Congress spend more time working in the same place.
Most full-time jobs require people to be in the office five days a week. But Congress’ work week is typically closer to three days, with Mondays and Fridays finding members en route to their home states or districts, or already there. For instance, this Monday, the Senate came back into session at 2 p.m. with no votes expected. The House opened a pro forma session at 2 p.m. on Monday, but is not back in session until noon on Tuesday.
“Isn’t that amazing? To work a five-day work week?” Snowe commented. “What happens is that, you know, on Mondays — at least in the Senate — you know, Monday night we’d have what you’d call a bed-check vote. Just to get, you know, the machinery of the Senate up and running so that we can start the committee process on Tuesday morning.”
“By Thursday, you know, jet fumes, the smell of jet fumes,” she went on.
“Everybody’s heading home, wanting to know when they can adjourn on Thursday so they can leave. Very short version of a work week makes it very difficult to deal with complex issues. And basically they’re not even getting the routine matters of business accomplished. We can’t pass a budget,” Snowe lamented.