WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Democrats, who will take control of Congress next month, have outraged some of their colleagues by their decision to work five days a week, which will almost double their workload.
According to an announcement made by the next Democratic majority leader, Steny Hoyer, representatives will have to be present to vote Monday through Friday.
What's more, instead of waiting for the traditional State of the Union address by the president at the end of January to begin legislative work, the House of Representatives and the Senate will put themselves to work as early as January 4.
A Republican member of Congress immediately complained.
"Marriages suffer. The Democrats couldn't care less about families -- that's what this says," Congressman Jack Kingston told The Washington Post.
Since then, he has been the subject of ridicule.
"My wife just returned from a yearlong tour in
Iraq," wrote a reader of The Post. "Our marriage and family -- we have two sons, ages two and three and a half -- are stronger than ever."
After gaining control of Congress by untiringly lambasting the "culture corruption" introduced by the Republican Party, Democrats have become impatient to display their determination to uphold "ethics."
They are making this effort in a country that upholds free enterprise, does not have a mandatory retirement age, where many juggle several jobs and where laziness passes easily for vice.
In 2006, the House of Representatives was in session for only 103 days -- three days less than the House of 1948, which was punished by voters the same way the Republican-controlled Congress was punished in November.
Even right-wing commentators had trouble criticizing the Democratic initiative.
"Congress can't do real oversight, let alone legislate, on a two-day schedule (and not all oversight is a game of get-the-president)," wrote Ramesh Ponnuru in a blog at the National Review.
Over the past two years, the House officially worked on Tuesdays, but generally to rename post offices or vote on general statements.
The first votes were usually scheduled for the evening to give elected officials time to return from their districts.
Important press conferences and hearings were usually held on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with almost all Fridays remaining free.
However, Americans lawmakers, as wells as some of their European colleagues, defend the importance of work in their districts.
"The question is, do you want Washington to have more influence on congressmen?" asked Kingston, who travels nearly 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) every week to Savannah, Georgia.
This is the best news I've heard in a long time!! It would be nice if our congressmen would work even half the hours of a normal American. After all they make a fortune compared to most of us, and supposedly hold important jobs! We didn't elect them so they can take our money and be on a permenant vacation!! Perhaps if they work a few more than two days a week they might actually accomplish something for a change!!!! As for their families suffering, I say tell that to the Americans working two and three jobs just to make ends meet or tell it to all of our troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan for the good of the country, I'm sure they'll be really sympathetic to our poor congressmens plight!