GOP decides two weeks on, one week off in shorter 2011 House schedule


House Republicans unveiled a 2011 schedule that will keep lawmakers in the nation’s capital for shorter periods of time, allowing them to travel home more frequently.

The schedule represents a major change from how Democrats have run the lower chamber over the last four years. Under the new calendar, House members will have a cycle of being in session for two weeks in Washington and then spending the following week in their home districts. Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said the new schedule would create “certainty” for members.

The House’s first day in the 112th Congress will be Jan. 5, well before President Obama delivers his State of the Union address. Usually, when the president’s party controls Congress, there is a relatively light legislative schedule before that speech. But with Republicans in control of the House next year, the plan is to hit the ground running next month. An exception to their two-weeks-in, one-week-out rotation will occur in January, when the House will be in session all month. Instead of the normal target adjournment date of Sept. 29 (aimed to coincide with the end of the fiscal year), Cantor expects the House to be in until Dec. 8. In prior Congresses, targeted adjournment dates in odd-number years were rarely met and regularly extended into December.

There will be a two-week recess in April, and the August recess will be scaled back to a little more than four weeks. The House is scheduled to adjourn Aug. 5 and return Sept. 7.

GOP decides two weeks on, one week off in shorter 2011 House schedule