Politico reports this morning that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to eliminate another tradition in the United States Senate. That would be the tradition of working three days a week – from Tuesday through Thursday. This comes in response to some conservatives who have complained about the light work week. McConnell apparently gained the support of GOP Senators to stay in session through Fridays and possibly over the weekend in order to approve judicial appointments, as well as other business.
However, this schedule has been in place for decades and there is a good reason for it. It allows Senators (and Congressmen) to have time to return to their states and districts and deal directly with their constituents. It is so ingrained in the political landscape of the Capitol, that congressional staffers have a name for it “The Tuesday to Thursday Club” And this dates back until at least the early 1970s if not before.
The House of Representatives is also a member of “The Tuesday to Thursday Club”, and for the same reasons. But as they have no say over confirmation of federal judges, do not expect Paul Ryan to make changes in the House work week any time soon.
While many may applaud this move by McConnell, it is doubtful that it will be welcomed by Senate staff members. How are they supposed to have their secret Friday afternoon cocktail parties (with one staff member delegated to stay sober and cover for all the rest of the staff?) “Sorry Senator, he’s over at the Foreign Affairs Committee right now.”
This could even spell trouble for the only truly bi-partisan group in D.C. – The P.O.E.T.S. Society which gathers together in comradery over drinks at a local bar every Friday night. Not just staffers, but some Members are also allowed to attend. How can you get drunk if your Senator is expecting you to show up for work on Saturday morning? In case you’re wondering, the initials stand for “Piss On Everything Tomorrow’s Saturday.”
You might be asking yourself if the people who work in Capitol Hill drink a lot – well, yes they do. Or at least they did back during the Watergate years. Maybe today they pop Xanax or smoke “something” to deal with the stress, because the job of a staffer is certainly stressful. If you’re lucky you work for someone who is basically reasonable. But even then, remember that these people have no job security. Imagine trying to buy a house if your job is only guaranteed for two or six obviously did not consult his Democrat counterpart, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over this change. That would have been a nice courtesy as the Democrats will be forced to remain in Washington as well or let the Republicans run roughshod over them.
But with as little as the Republicans have been able to achieve working three days a week, will adding an extra day or two to the schedule really improve matters. Much of the work of Congress goes on all week long with the afore-mentioned staff members working Mondays through Fridays, and sometimes on Saturdays, to draft the legislation, issue press releases, and write speeches for the members to give on the floor of the House or Senate.
According to the report by Politico,, the extended sessions are only supposed to continue throughout the fall. That should be enough time for Trump to load the federal judiciary with his own picks, which is the only reason that makes sense for McConnell to extend the sessions.
But also remember the famous quote by Judge Gideon Tucker: