NORFOLK-- Congress. They are wildly unpopular, and on pace to be the most unproductive ever. While you work long hard hours, the House gave themselves 240 days off this year.
”It doesn’t seem fair. Nobody gets that many days off,” one taxpayer told 13News Now. And few people make $175-thousand dollars a year.
Members of Congress also get great benefits like a retirement package, health care, even a gym membership. ”Oh, yea, I’d love that job,” another taxpayer said.
After spending just 125 days in Washington this year, the upcoming month-long summer recess might be an opportunity for members to earn the $700 a day salaries you pay them by seeing first hand the effects of sequestration back home.
"If they’re in Washington in their little bubbles, they’re not seeing the effects of that,” said Quentin Kidd, a government professor at Christopher Newport University.
Kidd says the sequester will hit Hampton Roads hard this summer, and if the congressional delegation sees the pain people are feeling from something congress is directly responsible for, they might be more willing to strike a budget deal.
”I think they should be here. I think they should be on the street. I think they should be hearing what people are saying about what’s happening to them,” Kidd added.
13News Now checked with our local delegation about their summer plans.
Randy Forbes’ office told us the congressman will use the break to, “focus on individuals and families burdened by furloughs.”
We were told Senator Tim Kaine will do much the same while Mark Warner’s office said the senator plans, “at least two weeks of extensive Virginia travel.”
Bobby Scott told us his schedule isn’t set. The offices of Congressmen Rob Wittman and Scott Rigell gave us no specifics on how they would spend the recess to minimize the impact of the sequester in their districts.
As for members of congress spending their summer recess on the golf course or at the beach, “This may be the summer our delegation doesn’t go on vacation because so many people in our region can’t go on vacation," Kidd said.
Some people we talked to took a similar hard line, ”Nobody should get paid if the people that’s working’s not getting paid,” a young man told us.
Kidd says Congress should spend the break bringing in the full resources of the federal government to help people struggling to deal with the sequester. Better yet, they should cut their own pay, cut staff, or reduce travel budgets. It may only being symbolic gesture, but at least it would show they get it.
Kidd also said Congress won’t solve sequestration simply by talking with their constituents. They’ll need to talk to one another to get a deal done and learn how to compromise.
Congress doesn't return to Washington until Labor Day.