The Washington Post

Forty percent of weekdays, Congress isn’t in session

In 2011, various members of Congress showed up for Seersucker Thursday. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

It being a (warm) Wednesday in July, with Congress getting close to wrapping things up for the summer, it struck us: Just how often is Congress in D.C., doing its thing? And the answer is, a bit above half the time. Unless we're talking about the Senate on Fridays.

We looked at the days-in-session calendar hosted by the Library of Congress for the past four years to figure out how often Congress is doing the people's work while the people themselves are working. We'll cut to the chase. On average since 2011, the House was in session 61.3 percent of weekdays. The Senate was in session for 60.1 percent.


Notice that this fluctuates by day of the week. Since 2011, the Senate has been in session on Fridays a solid 35 percent of the time, which is as though you told your boss that from May to December you got a three-day weekend. But three-quarters of the time, it's working Tuesdays, if that's any consolation.

It fluctuates, of course. Here's each year's data. (2014 data is through July 9.)


In fairness, Congress is often working on weekends, going to events in the district, etc. Not to mention weekday evenings, etc. The work of Congress is not limited to a Monday-through-Friday schedule.

But then, they also get August off. So allocate your sympathy as desired.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He is based in New York City.



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