In the final chapter of Haskell’s book, he proposes readjusting the balance between the legislative and representative roles of members of Congress. Essentially, members should spend more time in Washington, working on policy. Earlier chapters describe the dominance of the representative role and suggest this solution is impossible. If the main focus for members of Congress is reelection, as Haskell suggests earlier, then is it reasonable to think a rebalancing of representative and legislative priorities can take place?
Furthermore, would spending more time in Washington solve the problem? Haskell also notes limitations imposed by congressional partisanship, which seems to overshadow "time spent in Washington" in conversations about congressional productivity.
Brookings and AEI’s “Vital Statistics on Congress Report” compares the amount of time Congress actually spends in session from the 80th Congress to the 113th Congress. Including data from the second session of the 113th Congress, the Senate was in session 292 days and 2,003 hours. Since 1947, the Senate averaged 316 days and 2,186 hours in session. The House was in session 295 days and 1,473 hours in the 113th Congress. The number of days in session in the House is over the average of 290 days, but the number of hours is just under the average of 1,630 hours.
These differences appear marginal, which suggests spending more time in session may not be the cure-all solution to increasing congressional productivity. To what extent would reprioritizing the legislative role for members of Congress increase congressional productivity? Is intense partisanship really at the heart of the problem?
For the full Brookings and AEI Report: http://www.brookings.edu/research/reports/2013/07/vital-statistics-congress-mann-ornstein
For information on the 113th Congress’s second session: http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/Resumes/113_2.pdf