Skip to main content

Commentary: This isn't much of a recess for Congress

  • Story Highlights
  • Jared Polis: It's called a "recess" but it isn't a vacation for Congress
  • He says it's a time of meeting with constituents over issues
  • He says "focus" is important on bills like his charter school legislation
By Jared Polis
Special to CNN
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

Editor's note: Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat, represents Colorado's 2nd Congressional District and is appearing in's "Freshman Year" series along with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah.

Jared Polis says it's not really a recess, just a time to reconnect with people in congressional district.

Jared Polis says it's not really a recess, just a time to reconnect with people in congressional district.

(CNN) -- It's hard to believe that eight months have gone by and my first year in Congress is two-thirds complete.

When I first arrived, I likened Congress to being back in school again as a freshman. Well, just like school, we have an "August recess." but don't let the name fool you -- it's not even close to a vacation.

I am busier than ever with a dozen town halls and "Congress on your corner" meetings, meetings with constituent groups, and traveling across the district. It is a very different part of the job compared to the legislative component and frankly, less stress and more fun.

Most of all, it is a relief to be back in Colorado with friends and family for a month. Our cousins are visiting from New York City and we all saw a movie last night. I can't remember the last time I made it home in time for a movie in Washington. For the next month or so, it's like I have a somewhat normal life again.

CNN National Report Card, The Second 100 Days
Have the last 100 days of the Obama administration been days of change or days of frustration? Let your voice be heard. Cast your vote at Then, get the results from CNN's National Report Card.
Thursday, August 6, 8 p.m. ET

My favorite part of the experience of serving in Congress is knowing that my time and effort are spent for the greater good and for the betterment of our nation.

Humans and nations are imperfect, and through our collective efforts we hope to improve our nation and bring hope and opportunity to millions who lack it.

I have also enjoyed being able to help people one-on-one through constituent service. We have been able to stop a few deportations of individuals who contribute so much to our communities and helped keep several people in their homes who otherwise would have lost them.

The most important thing to keep in mind in being effective is focus. While it's important to spend time on the biggest issues of the day, and truly understand policy proposals for health care reform or carbon emission reduction, it's also critical to keep one's legislative goals in mind.

For instance, as important as the health care debate is for our nation, I haven't been able to get any work done on my charter school bill over the past few weeks.

With much of my energy focused right now on winning the fight for health care reform, I am grateful for my great staff, who can juggle multiple issues all at the same time and keep moving our bills forward.

We have a really great team working hard in our office. From having a surprise turtleneck birthday party, to being ambushed by FOX news, to getting lost in a horde of tourists to get to a meeting, to smuggling in a BBQ for our patio parties, we have already racked up so many funny stories from the late nights, and early mornings working together during my first eight months.

I also have set up days when one of our interns "shadows" me all day to experience the life of a Congressman. When I was an intern many years ago I shadowed Sen. Tom Daschle and I know I appreciated it a lot and I am honored to continue the tradition. I hope some of our interns are inspired to enter public service as well.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jared Polis.

All About Health Care PolicyEducation

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print