Members of Congress worked just two full days last week due to a snowstorm that postponed the start of the week until Tuesday night (for the House) and Wednesday morning (for the Senate).
That truncated schedule got us thinking: How many days has Congress worked this year and how does the workload compare to previous years?
The House and Senate usually begin their weeks around 2 p.m. Monday. Lawmakers usually hold their first votes Monday evening -- 5:30 p.m. in the Senate and 6:30 p.m. in the House.
In a typical week, members of the House and Senate work only two full days: Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For these purposes, we'll call "full days" when committees begin public hearings around 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. and votes continue into the late afternoon. When either chamber meets on Thursday, it's usually done as early as late morning and usually no later than 3 p.m. so lawmakers can get out of town by Thursday evening. Neither chamber has cast a vote this year on a Friday.
So far this year, the House and/or Senate has met or held votes a total of 28 of the 69 days of 2014. In some cases, only one chamber was open on a certain day. The House has met or voted on 22 days, while Senate has met or voted on 26 days. That's up from last year, when the House had met or held votes on 19 days at this point, while the Senate had met or held votes on 18. Both chambers took slightly longer-than-anticipated breaks in January last year after the dramatic year-end "fiscal cliff" votes and the presidential inauguration. In 2012, the House had met or voted on 26 days by March 10, while the Senate had met or voted on 24 days.
Both chambers also have taken two week-long breaks this year. Over the same period of time in 2013, the Senate only took one week-long break -- after beginning proceedings in late January, while the House took two breaks. Another week-long recess is scheduled for next week.
We sought all sorts of different ways to demonstrate how many days Congress has been in session so far this year, and ultimately opted for an old-school approach. With a hat tip to the Microsoft Word calendar template, here's a visual demonstration of how many days Congress has met so far this year:
If you want to explore the congressional schedules further, check out House roll call votes and the calendar and the Senate roll call votes and calendar. Remember, however, that the published calendars don't always reflect actual days in session -- the list of votes is a more reliable marker.