Amid Coronavirus, Rep. Peters Renews Pressure for New House Calendar to Reduce Travel, Increase Productivity, Reduce Carbon Footprint
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) re-asserted the need for a new congressional calendar that would increase the time members can spend in their districts, increase the number of days Congress is in legislative session, and reduce taxpayer-paid member travel to help fight climate change. An article in Wednesday’s New York Times called out Congress for failing to heed the federal government’s own advice for best practices — including avoiding “nonessential travel” — to avoid the spread of COVID-19, prompting the lawmaker to again call for a better, tighter, more productive work schedule for Congress.
Last year, Rep. Peters released a proposal known as The Congressional Climate Calendar, which outlines a commonsense schedule for Congress that will concentrate legislative work periods and district work periods. The proposal for the 2020 calendar would have increased the time Congress is in legislative working session by 27 days, reduced the number of roundtrip flights members would have had to make, and increased the time members spent interacting with constituents at home. Longer stretches in Washington and in House districts would enable more efficient, productive work periods and a welcomed culture change that supports productivity, benefits the environment and gives members with small children more flexibility. While travel between D.C. and members’ districts is essential, the Climate Calendar demonstrates that the excessive number of trips is not essential, and in fact, inefficient.
“This plan to modify the congressional calendar would mean less time wasted flying on a plane each week and more time spent legislating and hearing from our constituents in the district,” said Rep. Peters. “The original intent was to re-structure the system with more days in session and fewer hours spent traveling, helping members with families, those from the West Coast, and to generally reduce Congress’ carbon footprint. Less travel is even more necessary now due to the coronavirus outbreak. One of the most obvious things we could do is reduce the amount of time members spend on planes. Given that members are not cutting back travel habits themselves even under public health guidelines, adopting The Congressional Climate Calendar is the right call–it’s good for climate change, member child care, and combatting the coronavirus.”
After learning that Rep. Katie Porter (CA-45) was urging for similar changes to the calendar in order to improve the amount of time members with children could spend at home, the two legislators decided to team up to rally support for this major change to how Congress does business.