Members of Congress view their jobs very differently than the public does, reporting that they work long hours and find satisfaction in a role they view as a contribution to society.
These findings are part of a report titled “Life in Congress: The Member Perspective” that was released this morning by the Congressional Management Foundation and Society for Human Resource Management, based on a survey of 25 House members.
The public perception of lawmakers is not as positive. Congress’ approval rating has been in the single digits for three months straight, according to Rasmussen.
Lawmakers reported working 70 hours a week when the House is in session and 59 hours a week when the chamber is out of session, according to the report, which looks at how members use spend their time and view their jobs.
Perceiving their job as an “important public service” that “contributes to society” is what motivates lawmakers, they said.
“This report paints a picture of life as a member of Congress somewhat different than the one usually portrayed to the public,” said Bradford Fitch, president and CEO of CMF and report contributor, in a statement. “Members seem to be energized by their work, reporting that they are devoted to public service and are motivated by their contributions to society.”
Constituent relations are most important in session and out. Ninety-five percent of members rated “keeping in touch with constituents” as very important, and 85 percent said they were satisfied with this aspect of their jobs.
Members spend about 85 percent of their week on work, dividing time between policy and legislation, constituent relations and political and campaign work.
Family, friends and personal time take a backseat to work. Lawmakers said they spend about 9 percent of their time on family, despite spending at least 40 weekends at home each year. Instead, they use work weeks for constituent services and campaigning.