Daily Rundown   |  July 26, 2013

Deep Dive: Congress prepares for summer recess

Luke Russert talks with Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., about his suggestion that Congress should stay in session through August.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> dive." a look at congressional recession. it's an age old complaint. congress gets too many days off. one week from today, house members will be able to skip town for a month of summer recess. house lawmakers are scheduled to meet for 126 days this year. that's a slight increase from 2012 when they were scheduled for 107 days. but that was for campaign days, because 2012 was a campaign year. they call district workweeks to hold town halls and spend time with local officialsp in a recent study by the management foundation found that members do spend most of their time at homeworking with constituents it if you think there's a lot of time away from washington , it's nothing compared to what washington once did during the early days of the institution. it was a part time job beginning in december to may. that shortened schedule was due to the difficulties in travel, horse and buggy, and the awful summer heat of washington , d.c. over the years, with faster travel and air conditioning , they started working year round with breaks built in. the new schedule allowed the legislative sessions to run longer especially during the johnston administration. during his ambitious legislative agenda that included the civil rights act and voting rights act . the calendar is never set in stone. congressional lead eers can change it whenever they want. like they did in the budget battle unless 2011 . one congressman who is calling for house leaders to amend the calendar again and cancel the summer recess in order to finish the 12 annual spending bills for the next fiscal year, he's joining me right now. that will be virginia congressman scott rigel who is calling for congress to skip the summer break . thank you for joining me.

>> thank you, luke.

>> house is going on this recess, but they're only going to be in for nine days in the month of september. have you said this to eric cantor ? it's republicans who are creating this schedule.

>> well, i have. it's a really serious matter. i'm really proud of how we've aligned our calendar with the challenges facing our country. but on this particular matter, that is passing all 12 appropriation bills that fund the federal government , we're way off track. it is something that we control. we can pivot. we can still pivot even now. just a slight correction and even makes the point even stronger is that we're not breaking for four weeks, we're actually breaking for five.

>> what has the leadership said to you when you brought this up? this is a common complaint of, of all people, nancy pelosi who says, let us stay here and work. what have they said to you about this idea?

>> it's a house tradition. it's really carried over from year-to-year. tradition has its place in so many areas of american life . but when extraordinary challenges are facing our country and certainly our fiscal situation and our fiscal trajectory really put i think our country at risk. this is when you pitvot. you say, look, breaking for four or five weeks may be house tradition, but it is not wise.

>> mark warner 's also pushing this as sort of this virginia practicality, if you will. i want to ask you, though, about this whole idea of where we are with congress, that basically you're suggesting let's work six days a week, let's look at 8:00 a.m ., go all the way to 7:00 p.m . let's get in a room and really get to know each other. this really feeds into the idea the only way congress can work is if you guys are locked in a room and people are forced to talk to each other. how is it that bad?

>> i think when i make this case, i think some -- look at me as, well, scott's only been here 2 1/2 years, there may be a degree of political naivete or idealism. if that's the charge, count me as guilty. we need to pivot off this cynicism we have that we can't change congress . we've got to believe that. we also have to recognize this is not a normal time. when extraordinary forces are coming against you, as they are now, with our budget situation, it is not something that is acceptable to fund our government from something known as a continuing resolution. it's just a fiscal vehicle that takes what we funded last year, it moves it over with the same amount and the same budget line items into next year.

>> really quickly, you think the budget could pass as it stands now?

>> there's a lot of unknowns in that, you know, what's presented to us. it is one of the most difficult decisions that i've made in my time, in my short time in congress. look, shutting down the government that is -- that's not acceptab acceptable. at the same time, i don't want to facilitate the type of, you know, just continuance of bad policy that i sought the office to change.

>> it's going to be a fascinating debate in september when we come back from this long recess. just a hunch, you might be in for more than nine days. we appreciate it. from norfolk, virginia ,