Monday, January 08, 2007
Congress skips work to watch football
Listen to Congressional Democrats and you'd be forgiven for thinking the country is in crisis: Chaos in Iraq, a nation drowning in debt, a Congress known more for breaking laws than making them.

So what's the new Congress doing about it all today? We'd love to help you out on that, but we can't, because after a fairly busy week, the U.S. House of Representatives decided to take the day off, apparently because so many members wanted to go to tonight's college football championship game in Arizona.

Democrats say their lazy Monday was the result of a request from Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio, whose Buckeyes will play the Florida Gators in tonight's game. Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer agreed to hold off on voting today.

Tickets to the game are running at over a thousand dollars on eBay, but many of the members reportedly got a sweet deal from Ohio State University -- tickets for less than $200.

Who says members of Congress aren't thrifty?

They're all back tomorrow, and the Democrats' much-hyped 100 hours of legislative action begins. We're sorting all this out for tonight's show, as always, "We're keeping them honest."
Posted By Steve Turnham, CNN Producer: 3:54 PM ET
A politician is a politician is a ...well, you know. Except for their infinite bids to be re-elected, they are absolutely the laziest bunch on earth. Nothing has changed and nothing will change as long as we have people in office who fancy themselves royalty instead of employees of the people.
Posted By Anonymous A. Roy Olson, Tucson AZ : 4:06 PM ET
I think it is an excellen idea for Congress to watch football. I guess that not as out of touch with the American People as we thought
Posted By Anonymous Emilio N, San Diego, CA : 4:16 PM ET
I guess the new congress hasn't had time yet to make special deals for representatives like cheap game tickets illegal. Will we see any real changes?
Posted By Anonymous JRM, Pittsburgh, PA : 4:18 PM ET

To quote Rumsfeld, fiddle dee dee. Of course Congress should have a day off to attend a football game. What the dickens do we expect them to do? As it is they work their little fingers to the bone. I saw on either the Daily Show or Colbert that they work in DC about 100 days a year now, about two days a week. Goodness gracious. Bring me the smelling salts. I am about to swoon from exhaustion.
Posted By Anonymous Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 4:19 PM ET
I think they should dock themselves one day's pay for this. Nancy, you are a wonderful rolemodel for all those hard-working, everyday Americans you now represent. I think you should have passed a resolution allowing everyone to take today off in the US, so we could all sit back and watch the game. Maybe a bill should be written that goes something like this: 'For every calender week of the congressional session that 40 hours of work are not scheduled the salary of each congressman will be docked 1000 dollars." Let see how many days off they vote themselves.
Posted By Anonymous Brant, Madison, Wisconsin : 4:25 PM ET
If the job of U. S. Representative is no more important than this, why are they bothering to come back on Tuesday? On a more positive note, at least we've found one issue that has bipartisan support.
Posted By Anonymous Patrick Houlihan, Arkadelphia, AR : 4:32 PM ET
At least they agreed on something. Too bad it wasn't anything worth a damn.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie Darby, Denham Springs, LA : 4:59 PM ET
I don't blame any of them for wanting to be in Phoenix today. It is 75 degrees and there is not a cloud in the sky. If I did not already live here, I would not pass up the chance to be here right now either.
Posted By Anonymous Ryan, Phoenix AZ : 5:02 PM ET
Although I'm not from the U.S, this manoeuvre is a classic move in my country by our governors (One of the most corrupt countries in the world). It seems our president would be re-elected this year. People do believe in them because of their ignorance. That's the problem in Argentina. Ignorance.
Posted By Anonymous Federico Cimbaro, Buenos Aires, Argentina : 5:05 PM ET
I suppose that they will be working so hard in Jan. that they'll have to take the first week of Feb. off for the Super Bowl. What happened to stopping favors and gifts? You would think those not attending the game would get a jump on the week by working, Hummmmm.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago,Il : 5:06 PM ET
Mr. Turnham,

I wonder how long the issue was debated on the House floor? Maybe an hour or so.

Rep. X yielding his time to Rep. Y and each of them commending each other about their wins in of each of their respective states. Then of course they have to tell each other how they are each dedicated to a life of "public service."

Another part of the story is the fact Congress will be not voting tommorrow until after 3:00 PM EST.

Yes, some businesses are closing in the morning in Florida. Clients are rescheduling because they will be up past midnight. The party platters are flying out of the grocery stores this afternoon. This is football life in Florida pure and simple.

Meanwhile, I'll go to the opera tonight. I can't figure out which I enjoy less football or the opera. I guess it is the marital bliss and that means I am off to my 2007 obligatory opera date with my husband. And in the morning, I'll still be at my office long before Congress sees their first vote.

Thanks to 360 for Keeping Them Honest!
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 5:16 PM ET
The British & Canadian parliaments use a system of 'pairing' in order that members can take 'days off' from the business of the house without upsetting the voting balance. Does the House not have such a system?
Posted By Anonymous Michael Sim, Vancouver, BC : 5:17 PM ET
Can't John Boehner and all the others read about the game in tomorrow's newspaper? Are they going to need another day off because they have a hangover? What's more important Iraq or football?
Posted By Anonymous Pat, Albuquerque, New Mexico : 5:26 PM ET
Clearly, none of these responders is from OHIO. The National Championship game is the most important event in Ohio - even politicians cannot be blamed for their enthusiasm.
Posted By Anonymous Linda Columbus, OH : 5:30 PM ET
Way to go! That's embarassing. Haven't they heard of Tivo? What happened to the first 100 hours? Does going to a football game count if they go as a group?
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 5:31 PM ET
Ah yes, there's those honest, hard-working Democrats we elected. Up Next: Fraud, Waste and Abuse.
Posted By Anonymous Eric, San Antonio, TX : 5:32 PM ET
I don't care if the Congress members take some of their own time to go to a football game but when it is on the job I think it is ludicrous. With all of the turmoil in the world you think that the Congress could do something more prosperous with their time then go to a football game. On the other hand, I guess a day off won't make that much of a difference because they'll be back in action tomorrow...
ps. I'm looking forward to watch Anderson's interview with Oprah tonight! AC360!
Posted By Anonymous Joanna Parker, Millsboro: DE : 5:34 PM ET
"We're keeping them honest."
haha you should do stand up. The whole bunch is dis-hearting. I think going to the Game however may be the most productive thing to be done in many moons. It is my hope it puts the "wildcat" back in the Congress
Posted By Anonymous Tim D, Palmdale,CA : 5:38 PM ET
Since when did football become a national priority! This is unbelievable!
Posted By Anonymous Shruti Bala, Glendale, AZ : 5:39 PM ET
The Congressman from Ohio does have his priorities in the correct order. I was born and raised in Ohio where life revolved around Coach Woody Hayes and the Buckeyes. Not watching a Buckeye game is like...well...the 8th deadly sin! Besides...with no voting there will be no idiotic law passed that only they can understand...and no bill passed that gives $10 Million to a little research facility in the Ozarks studing the mating habbits of the "something or other" snail. Go Buckeyes!!
Posted By Anonymous Jack, Port St Lucie, FL : 5:42 PM ET
Do your JOB! How dare you all overpaid, lazy, can't get anything done, can't balance the budget people take a day off to watch a football game. All of you who did should be admonished and a letter placed in each of your files for misconduct.
Posted By Anonymous Jon MacLean Santa Clarita CA : 5:51 PM ET
It is no surprise that either side of the aisle would put sporting events before their fiduciary duty to the country. This is the same group of legislators who originally voted for the war without performing and substantial due diligence. They come from a long line of the same ilk.
Perhaps their time would be better spent studying the last seventy-five years of Middle East history with a particular emphasis on Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran. Maybe then they would develop enough deep background knowledge of the issues involved in the regions international, inter religious sect and inter ethnic complexities to have some basic understanding of the problem we face in Iraq.
It may be more fun to watch football games then to do the country's business but that is not what we sent them to Washington for. Hopefully the next elections will be just as problematic for the politicians who ignore the will of the people as the last ones were. We the people are not as blase and apathetic as some might think, especially when you start spending our children's lives to fund your political ambition.
Posted By Anonymous Dan Creamer, Salt Lake City, Utah. : 5:56 PM ET
I don't see what the big deal is. So some of them wanted to go to the big game. Will probably do them good to just relax and forget about all the things going on in Washington. Give them a break people!
Posted By Anonymous Nan Hull, Reading, MI : 5:58 PM ET
I say A ok! They better be tailgating, cooking steaks, and giving away free drinks from the kegs! One day, Nancy will take the day off to go watch figure skating and I would be ok with that too!
Posted By Anonymous Claude Calgary AB Canada : 6:05 PM ET
I think they should stay at the football game for their elected duration - at least then they can't screw up any important governmental decisions.
Posted By Anonymous GCM Weston, Wisconsin : 12:35 AM ET

It's ridiculous, we have military persons who are missing so much, the birth of their child, tucking their children into bed, the truly meaningful things in life, maybe never getting the chance to experience them ever again. They are giving up so much and those people couldn't even give ip a football game?
Posted By Anonymous lg , overland park,ks : 1:42 AM ET
Who cares! It's not like they were doing anything positive while in office anyways, but piss the whole world off. I think we did pretty well with them having the day off. Way to turn things around Pelosi! I suggest you give them the rest of their term off, maybe that's the change we needed in Washington.
Posted By Anonymous KonAir, Dallas TX : 2:50 AM ET
The game was at 8:00 PM. Why did they need the whole day off? Oh yeah because they are politicians hard at work pissing away our tax dollars. They are also off next Mon for Martin Luther King Day. At this rate, the first 100 hours will take that many days. Many of the folks in Washington may have changed, but business-as-usual, or shall I say the lack there of, remains the same. Give me a break
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Scranton, PA : 3:52 AM ET
I bet the Congressmen from Ohio now wished they went to work rather than sat thru a beating like that.
Posted By Anonymous Barb Kozlowski, Phoenix AZ : 7:14 AM ET
This story would have more credibality with me if you had reported on the 2 days per week (half day, full day, half day from Tues to Thurs) that the "do nothing" 109 congress spent each week during the past two years. Where was CNN on this?
Posted By Anonymous Bill G., Portland, ME : 7:22 AM ET
In some ways, we're better off when they don't work. At least while they're at the game, they can't pass any harmful bills.
Posted By Anonymous Bill W, Coatesville, PA : 7:33 AM ET
Do we all get to take a day off to watch our favorite sport? If that were the case, the U.S. would be in bigger trouble than it is now. It's interesting how the Congressional elite doesn't expect the same thing of themselves as they would any other employee. Football may be important in Ohio, but somehow I doubt that the entire state shuts down for the game. Their congressman owes the constituents the same. We need to take names and vote accordingly.

By the way, how much does a congressional salary work out to per hour worked? Somehow, I think it is way above the minimum wage they think the little guy can get by on. But then, how many minimum wage people are going to the game as spectators?
Posted By Anonymous Catherine, Kenosha WI : 9:02 AM ET
I think it is great that they took 1 day off for some AMERICAN relaxation!! How many of us know someone that has taken the day off of work to go to a game, family outing, etc. It is playoff season! At least we know that some of our polititians are still human! They are immediately returning to their duties. Doesn't everyone need a night off from our national crisis????
Posted By Anonymous Victoria Erie, Pennsylvania : 9:06 AM ET
Being born and raised in Ohio (now I live and work in IL) I know that the National Championship is a HUGE deal for everyone. However, since all of Congress got to take the day off why didn't the rest of the nations businesses. I mean if the game is of such national intrest it should be national holiday right?
Posted By Anonymous Dave Chicago, IL : 10:16 AM ET
I have to admit I don't see the problem with this. They work what, 125 days a year? I hardly doubt Iraq is going to just stop if they take a day off, and besides, war and insurgents and all that stuff is like, depressing and junk. Much more fun to go to the game and drink twelve dollar "beer". I wonder if the troops will get to see the game.
Posted By Anonymous Mimi, London Ontario : 10:18 AM ET
I work in retail. I get 2 days off per year, Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. The Congress doesn't know the meaning of hard work and the Democrats, now that they are in "power", are proving to be the same slackers they've always been. The football game was played in the evening. They couldn't work all day and watch after the work day was over like regular people? Just an excuse to waste our time and our money.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah Gupton, Decatur, AL : 10:20 AM ET
Exactly what to expect from the new order in charge. Typical Dem outline but I'm surprised that the girl in charge supported it. Must be a gesture of binding with the boys, now they owe her one and will have to watch Oprah.
Ever hear of recording a show?
Disgusting and expected actions from our under performing leaders already.
Posted By Anonymous Tim, Boca Raton, Fl. : 10:27 AM ET
Hah. I for one am glad that OSU lost! Just because the one who requested the day off is obviously a fan. Oh karma, how I love thee!
Posted By Anonymous Kimber Streams, Louisville, KY : 3:25 PM ET
Maybe you guys should NOT bash Congress for their short work weeks. Check how many reruns and expanding 'easy stories' to fill the time available that you do.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 3:48 PM ET
While Congress was taking a day off on Monday, I was flying back from New Orleans from a mind-boggling trip as a journalist covering hurricane survivors. Once again, I question why Congress does not have the immediate needs of New Orleans and the Gulf coast on the top of their agenda.

I have some questions to ask Congress concerning the next 100 days:

Why do the survivors of Hurricane Katrina and Rita have to pay such high property taxes and utility reconstruction fees? Many have lost everything and now the local government and utilities want more money from the homeowners to rebuild the infrastructure? Yes, government loans are available after a year and a half of waiting. So, pay the property taxes and utility fees and what's left to rebuild a home and a community?

Is Congress aware of the health care emergency in New Orleans? Why aren't there any clinics set up to help the citizens of New Orleans and the Gulf coast? Out of 26 hospitals, why did only 5 stay open in New Orleans? If one has a medical emergency, yes, they may be admitted to the hospital, but family members may have to stay to care for them. There are not enough nurses to care for patients in the hospitals. The elderly are especially at risk.

Where have all the children gone in New Orleans? Have they have gone out of state to go to school? Is it true that the University of Louisiana had to take over the New Orleans' school system because it is in shambles?

Does Congress realize from 40-50% (and rising) of the population of New Orleans left and will not be coming back? New businesses and corporations need to be established/re-established in New Orleans for the city to recovery. (I am not talking about the French Quarter or the Superdome) Is Congress giving incentives to businesses to build in New Orleans?

Why are dozens of tanker trucks lined up daily in front of sewer pumping stations throughout the city transporting water away from New Orleans? I thought the pumps were repaired and functioning properly? Are the levees "repaired"?

With the upcoming FEMA deadline of February 28, 2007, for the end of the use of FEMA trailers by survivors, does "hounding" the survivors monthly and leaving dates marked with a Sharpie outside of the trailer wall bring good will to all involved? Do the survivors have to go through the extension process every month after month when FEMA knows the repair progress of their homes is stagnant?

When is the last time George W. Bush was in New Orleans?

Why can our armed forces rebuild an infrastructure for citizens who don't want us there (Iraq) and not rebuild an infrastructure for our own citizens in the US?

I am at a loss for words when it comes to Congress taking Monday off for the Championship game between Florida State and Ohio State.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon D., Indianapolis, IN : 4:16 PM ET
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