Congress Got 239 Days Off This Year: How Many Did You Get?

Written by Bryce Covert

Congress has just few days on the job between now and the start of the next session on January 7, with the House coming back on Monday and adjourning for the year by December 13 and the Senate returning on December 9 only to most likely adjourn for the year on December 20. In total, the House will have had 239 days off this year with even more scheduled for next year.

Certainly members of Congress have work to do when they’re not required to be in D.C., including meetings with constituents, running their other offices, talking to local community leaders, and doing media interviews. Some may also use those days off on other jobs for supplemental income, but most make side money by owning businesses or from investments.

The picture is very different for the rest of Americans, however. The country doesn’t guarantee its citizens any paid vacation or holiday time off, unlike 20 of its developed peers. All European Union countries guarantee workers at least 20 paid days of vacation a year, with France going so far as to lock in 30, the United Kingdom mandating 28, and Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden guaranteeing 25. Thirteen also mandate paid holidays off. Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Sweden go even further, requiring employers to give workers an extra bonus to cover vacation expenses.

Of course, many American employers still give their workers paid vacation time and holidays off. But that holds true for fewer and fewer workers. Today, 77 percent of workers have access to paid vacation days, compared to 80 percent 20 years ago. The biggest drops have come for those who work part-time — a position more and more find themselves in — or for employers with fewer than 100 workers. And while those who get paid vacation get more days than back then, they get fewer paid holidays, which offsets the increase.

This problem was in stark relief last Thursday as millions of workers had to show up at work for retailers who were open on Thanksgiving Day. While many were compensated with extra pay and perks and the companies claimed their workers were excited to come in that day, some employees claimed that their requests to take the day off were denied.

The U.S. also lags developed peers in other kinds of paid time off. It is the only one out of the top 15 most competitive that doesn’t guarantee paid sick days, which leaves 40 percent of private sector workers out of paid leave. Those who do get paid sick days also get fewer of them than two decades ago. The country is even more lonely when it comes to maternity leave to take care of a new child, joining just three countries out of 178 in failing to guarantee paid time off. Fathers similarly get no guarantee of paid time off when a new child arrives.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo credit: Thinkstock

139 comments

Jim Ven
Jim Ven6 months ago

thanks for the article.

Robert H.
Robert Hamm2 years ago

Total gibberesh. Bush took way more vacation time than Obama. Obama has a larger family so the SS costs are higher. The SS decides how much protection and how many Men are needed. It has nothing to do with Obama. Obama has worked his ass off.

john hall
john hall2 years ago

And the lier in chief took flipping multi million dollar vacations so the hell what... Bunch of damn hypocrites quit crying about congress when the democratic senate did the same,quit crying about the GOP when you have a president that has'nt worked that much either it's what these pieces of crap do...It's the people's fault we elect these idiot's in power to screw us over and then we re-elect them again and then complain about it so shut the hell up and quit complaining when it's your's ,my fault.

John H.
John H2 years ago

The sad fact is we've let things get to this point. The same as when a pet or child becomes unruly / out of control. Somewhere along the line, either through laziness or lack of concern, we've failed in our responsibility to monitor a situation.
And now it's out of hand; checks & balances have fallen by the wayside, congress votes to obstruct rather than construct, and the public is being divided- we're left to fight amongst each other while the country is pillaged.
Politicians have so often circumvented, lied & loop-holed to get their way that voter apathy is at an all-time high. It's tough to care when you work 10 or 12 hours a day to slowly lose your home (or go sleep in your car).The only thing to do is keep trying and hope that at some point a real leader will emerge, or that we can vote out the scum one at a time.

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se2 years ago

There really should be a cut in their salary for some of those days..............

Amanda M.
Amanda M2 years ago

As a stay-at-home mom, I haven't had a day off in over 11 YEARS! And yes, the nonstop housework and child-raising IS in fact work-I'm doing the work of FOUR PEOPLE! Combine that with not having much in the way of social interaction with other adults because my husband works evenings, overnights, and weekends in his job, and you wonder why I hold firmly to the opinion that we do in fact deserve job recognition AND a paycheck! The closest I get to being paid is when I find loose change between the sofa cushions or in someone's pockets on laundry day-hell, the only time I get spending money for myself is on my birthday and at Christmas! That's IT.

Why is it that when a woman does the jobs that a SAHM does for other people, it's considered worthy of a paycheck, but when she does the same work at home for her family, it's considered unworthy of a paycheck? Heck, one can argue that a SAHM is in the words of George Orwell's 1984 "an un-person" because she gets neither pay nor recognition for what she does. Something's rotten in the state of this country when Congress gets paid big bucks to sit on their butts and take tons of days off while SAHMs literally work theirs off and get nothing for it and literally get NO days off!

Autumn S.
Autumn Away S2 years ago

Time for things to change! Hmmmm, yes I'm a dream, I admit it :/

Janis K.
Janis K2 years ago

Time to vote out the republicans, so our next congress will be able to accomplish something!

Linda R.
Linda R2 years ago

In regard to shopping on Thanksgiving Day- if none of us shopped on that day none of us would have to work that day. These days our purchasing power is louder than our voting power.

Brian Foster
Brian F2 years ago

The republican members of Congress should get paid minimum wage $7.25 an hour, since they want to eliminate it, and cut taxes for corporations, so our poor can live in poverty, and require food stamps which we pay for through our taxes.