Rep.-elect Allen West said Thursday that the Congressional schedule does not provide enough time for lawmakers to properly complete their work and that Members should spend more, not less, time in Washington.
The incoming Florida Republican wrote a letter to Majority Whip-designate Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to complain that the 123-day, 32-week schedule would not allow Congress “to do a thorough review of our nation’s spending priorities.”
“I am very concerned that the House of Representatives consistently stays in session for only two weeks on Capitol Hill, followed by one week in the District,” he wrote. “Further, the schedule puts the House of Representatives in recess when the U.S. Senate is in session — and vice-versa.”
He added: “Certainly the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and the Democrat-controlled Senate are going to need to work in concert to enact legislation to move this nation forward.”
West is one of many incoming freshmen who have said they want to shake up the way Congress works. But his argument runs counter to the thoughts of many of his freshmen colleagues, who have expressed concern that more time in Washington would make them lose touch with their constituents.
Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said having more days in session would not necessarily mean more work would get done.
“More days in Washington has historically resulted in bigger government, greater waste, and more spending — not more production,” he said in an e-mail. “What’s important is who’s in charge and the process put in place, not the number of days in session.
“Newly elected Republicans and reformers are pleased that the schedule allows for greater certainty, increased oversight, and more time spent in districts listening to constituents, small business people and families and less time in Washington promoting bigger government,” he said.
West made headlines last month when he offered his chief of staff position to controversial right-wing talk radio host Joyce Kaufman. Kaufman later declined to accept the position after West came under fire for the decision.
West, one of two black Republicans elected in November, has also said he plans to join the Congressional Black Caucus next year. He would be the only Republican in the group, as Rep.-elect Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has said he does not plan to join the caucus.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.