In almost every poll that is taken by news organizations and research groups, the US Congress receives a very unfavorable rating. However, most people have a favorable rating of their own member of Congress.
Part of the reason that those in Congress are looked upon with negativity rest in the perception that Congresspersons have with the general public. Many believe that those in Congress don’t get anything done. They aren’t seen as working hard for the people.
A joint study conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation and the Society for Human Resource Management determined that the average member of Congress actually spends 70 hours per week working while in Washington. When a congressman is in his district, his average work week is 59 hours.
The study did a breakdown of the percentage of time that the average member of Congress spent on a variety of different activities. The study found that while a Congressman is in Washington, he spends about 35 percent of his time on matters of legislation and policy development. This would include work on various Congressional committees as well as time spent speaking on the floor and listening to speeches. Votes on legislation would also be included.
About 17 percent of a Congressman’s time is spent on constituent work. This type of work consists of answering correspondence from members of the Congressman’s district. It also includes helping district members with problems and assisting district members to secure appointments to the various US military academies.
Another 17 percent of a Congressman’s time is taken up with campaigning. This includes giving speeches and going to various fundraising events.
Dealing with the media takes up about nine percent of a Congressman’s time. Congressmen with a national reputation will spend more time on this while those known only in their own state will spend less time dealing with the media. Media time may be spent on radio and television interviews and in answering questions from print journalists.
Seven percent of the Congressman’s time is spent on administrative work. This would include managing the office. Each Congressman has a staff of several individuals. These people have to be hired, fired and supervised.
The final 15 percent of a Congressman’s time is spent on personal time and on time with family and friends. One wonders how this is considered to be time working.