Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

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Get your House in order

Feds, now may be your chance to make yourself heard by your member of Congress.

That's because—according to the official House calendar—this week and next are "constituent work weeks." While there are one or two field hearings slated to be held here and there around the country over the next two weeks, the House on Friday adjourned until April 28, and members presumably are back in their districts at this very moment meeting with constituents as advertised.

Given the attention Congress has given you over the past couple of years, it's a pretty sure bet that a lot of feds may have a thing or two to say to their lawmakers as well, if given the opportunity. That may apply particularly to members of the House, who have the power of the purse, and who by opening and closing those purse strings influence so many of the decisions that affect your federal career. And as noted, now may be your chance to do it.

You may not realize it, but members of the House, including your local member, spend at last one week a month back home, and sometimes more, especially in months with major holidays. This month, for example, House members spend 11 workdays in D.C. and 11 in their districts.

With some small variations, the Senate follows a similar calendar. But this year House members are scheduled to take far more time off, especially later in the year. That's because all of them are up for election in November (and of course want to get those constituent concerns really nailed down), whereas only one-third of senators are up for election.

But while this month may be a good opportunity to get your member's attention, your real chance to collar your representative for a heart-to-heart comes later this year.

That's because the House's constituent time in the latter part of 2014 includes all of August (an annual vestigial remedy to Washington's oppressive summer heat), two weeks in September, four weeks in October, and the first and last weeks of November.

For poor math students, that adds up to 12 weeks—or a bit less than three months of constituent time over a four-month period.

With their House seats on the line, don't expect to find members spending a lot of time in their district offices—they'll be holding rallies and town halls, making speaking engagements, and pressing the flesh at everything from church picnics to backyard barbeques to ribbon-cuttings to veterans' events.

So if you are fed up with pay freezes, furloughs, downsizing, benefits cuts and just plain being picked on, this year may provide an opportunity to do something about it. Or at least say something about it. If you're perfectly content, that's one thing. But if you're not, you might want to make some noise.

Because sometimes silence isn't golden.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Apr 15, 2014 at 4:03 PM

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