These days, Congress members aren’t exactly regarded as superheroes. Aside from the bad rap they get from various scandals (I’m looking at you, Chris Christie), unethical fundraising, and—of course—shutting down the government last year, all sorts of unflattering facts are being trumpeted about Congress. All in all, most people don’t think of Congress members as the industrious, generous, and productive leaders we all wish for.
But it can’t be all bad, can it? After all, someone in Washington has to be hard at work, selflessly turning the gears that keep our fifty states running, right? Well, let’s take a look. Without further ado, here are six things Congress members are doing with their days instead of solving the debt crisis, creating jobs, or whatever they said they would do when you voted for them.
1. Taking really long vacations
I don’t think anyone would deny that MLK Day is important, but Congress may have gotten a little too excited for the holiday. They took an entire week off, instead of the single day given to other government employees. Just in case that’s not enough vacation time, they’ll also take their annual mid-February break next month, another break in March, and then they’ll round out the summer with an entire month off in August. (Oh, and did I mention they usually take four day weekends?)
2. Raising money
It’s no secret that raising money is essential to winning an election. So even though members of congress aren’t required by law to fundraise, the competition necessitates it. Take John Boehner, for example. He’s found the time to raise almost $1.5 million form securities and investment firms alone.
3. Not caring about the wilderness
Sure, I know Congress has a lot on its plate these days. But the wilderness is definitely not one of those things. You may be asking yourself, how does a group merit the title, “most anti-wilderness Congress in history”? For one, it takes being the first Congress since 1966 not to pass a single bill protecting the wilderness. It also helps that there are more than 12 anti-wilderness bills currently in progress. It takes a lot of work to care as little for the environment as the 112th Congress.
4. Hosting fundraisers at luxury ski resorts
Because “destination fund-raisers” are nothing like bribery. Also, they’re really fun.
5. Writing bills that don’t get passed
The Washington Post blog shared an interesting fact about Congress: “almost none of the bills introduced into Congress ever becomes a law.” According to the numbers, out of the nearly 6,000 bills introduced in 2011, only 2.75% were passed. Last year, only 2/3 of that number made it through, which means that in 2013, Congress passed a whopping 1.83% of all the bills introduced.
6. Breaking records
Congress is quite good at doing very little. In fact, they’re breaking records with that ability. From 2011-2012, the 112th Congress passed 283 bills. That is only 32% the amount of bills that the famously dubbed “Do-Nothing Congress” passed between 1947-48. With only 65 bills actually passing last year, 2013 was literally their most unproductive year ever.