It's official: The House is closing up shop until after the midterm elections. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office announced Thursday there will be no votes on Friday and said the four-day session originally scheduled to begin on Sept. 29 has been canceled, pending Senate approval of the continuing resolution that passed the House Wednesday. That means lawmakers will be sprinting to the exits -- and the quick trip to the airport -- after the close of business Thursday.
The Republican-run U.S. House had a nice, long summer break recently, taking the month of August off, as well as the first week in September.
House members worked four days last week, and another four this week, at which point they apparently decided that they've done enough.
In this case, "close of business Thursday" means this afternoon.
Granted, lawmakers in the lower chamber weren't scheduled for a lot more work days -- they were supposed to show up tomorrow and four days the week of Sept. 29 -- but they've decided not to bother.
And so, over the 14 weeks spanning the beginning of August and the middle of November, House members will work a grand total of eight days -- out of a possible 103. And after today, they'll be away from work for the next 54 days.
I imagine there are many who'll see this and shrug. "If they're not going to do any real work anyway," the argument goes, "they might as well go home."
That's one way to look at it, but there's another way.
For example, the U.S. military carried out its 175th and 176th airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq today, and this seems like the sort of combat mission that warrants some congressional debate -- and maybe authorization.
If lawmakers were at work, that might happen.
Also, by cutting out early, lawmakers help guarantee an ignominious record will be set. As of this morning, the current, 113th Congress has passed 163 laws. That means, unless lawmakers passed 75 pieces of legislation in the lame-duck session -- that won't happen -- this will easily be the least productive Congress since clerks started keeping track a few generations ago.