When Is Congress in Session?

Congress is in session — that is, meeting — an average of 138 days of the year. That’s two or three days a week. If you check the Congress calendar, you’ll see plenty of long weekends.

But that doesn’t mean that your representatives in the legislature are slackers. They have a lot of things to get done during those days off, including visiting their constituents in their districts.

Your congresspeople represent you, so it’s a good thing if they head back to their districts to listen. You should take advantage of the opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings with your legislators when they’re at home.

Time for learning

Congresspeople have a lot of reading to do, as well. The texts of bills that come up for a vote can be very long, and every legislator who votes on a bill has a responsibility to read it.

There are also hearings on matters your representatives want to know more about. These are meetings where expert witnesses answer questions and help make sure your representatives are well informed before they vote on a question.

Often the hearings are in committees or subcommittees, so a smaller group of people can pass on recommendations. No one representative can be thoroughly knowledgeable on every subject.

Especially in the case of Puerto Rico, which has no voting representatives, it’s important to make sure that every person who will vote on statehood — that’s every senator and every member of the house — is clear on the facts.

Because that’s so important, legislators also meet with each other, with lobbyists, and with other individuals to discuss important issues.

Work with the calendar

Is your congressperson coming home? This is a great time to send a letter to the local office, to show up at events, or to call and talk to a local staffer. Any time is a good time to send an email.

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