Study: How Members of Congress Spend Their Time

A new study breaks down how members of Congress spend their days on the Hill or in their districts.

Contrary to what some may believe, members of Congress spend most of their time on legislative work, followed by equal amounts of time on constituent services and campaigning, according to a new joint study by the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) and the Society for Human Resource Management.

Life in Congress: The Member Perspective,” which surveyed 25 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, found that when in DC, respondents spent 35 percent of their time on legislative or policy work, 17 percent on constituent work, and 17 percent on political or campaign work.

Time spent on constituent services increases when members are in their districts: Respondents reported spending 32 percent of their time on this kind of work when in-district.

“This report paints a picture of life as a member of Congress somewhat different than the one usually portrayed to the public,” Bradford Fitch, president and CEO of CMF and a report contributor, said in a statement. “Members seem to be energized by their work, reporting that they are devoted to public service and are motivated by their contributions to society.”

On average, members of Congress said they work 70-hour weeks when the House is in session but believe the long hours are worth it: 89 percent are satisfied in performing an important public service and feeling invested in the work they are doing.

A majority of respondents (95 percent) also reported that “staying in touch with constituents” is the part of their job most critical to their effectiveness, and 85 percent said they were satisfied with this area of their jobs.

A previous CMF study listed some of the most effective methods for constituents or their representatives to contact members of Congress. In-person constituent visits were identified by the most respondents (46 percent) as a method with “a lot of positive influence.”

The most recent study is the second in a series of three reports examining Congress as a workplace. The first, released last October, investigated the work-life balance of congressional staffers. The third installment, to be released later this year, will look at job satisfaction and employee engagement among staffers.

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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