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BLITZER’S BLOG: Congress flees Washington
August 2nd, 2011
04:41 PM ET

BLITZER’S BLOG: Congress flees Washington

Washington (CNN) - It didn’t take very long for the House of Representatives to get out of Dodge. Within minutes of passing the debt ceiling legislation Monday night, they adjourned until Sept. 7. The August-plus-a-week-of-September recess has begun. Those members who could still get out of Washington Monday night bolted to Reagan National, Dulles or Baltimore/Washington Airport. The others waited until Tuesday.

Now that the Senate has passed the legislation, the senators are doing the exact same thing – rushing to get out of Washington for five weeks.

Critics will suggest that these members are simply going on vacation at taxpayers’ expense. My own sense is that that the across-the-board criticism is unfair.

Senators and representatives point out – accurately - that they are heading to their districts and states to meet with their constituents and handle local business. They will hold town hall meetings and try to appreciate the pulse of their communities.

The controversy arises when they start taking trips.

Some members will engage in what they call “fact-finding missions,” or what their critics charge are simply “junkets.”

Having covered these trips over the years, I can tell you both sides have a point.

There are missions and junkets.

A fact-finding mission is when a congressional delegation, or CODEL, as they’re called, goes to Iraq or Afghanistan to get an eye-witness account of what’s going on. They meet with troops and local government leaders. These missions often are dangerous and certainly not glamorous.

A junket is when these members go to London, Paris, or some wonderful island in the Caribbean for a conference sponsored by some non-governmental agency or think tank. They stay at beautiful hotels or resorts and can bring their spouses; all expenses are paid.

You get my point.

In any case, for those of us who live in the DC area, this nation’s capital – at least for the next five weeks - won’t be the same without them.

RELATED STORY: Obama signs debt ceiling bill, ends crisis

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Filed under: Congress • Debt • Washington • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. Tony Caso

    Get Obama off here and put a real true, honest candidate on here maybe you will get more traffic!
    RON PAUL 2012!!!!!!

    August 17, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  2. Me-Me

    Hi Wolfe,

    this is Me-Me. I just finished watching President Obama's speech on T.V. I don't understand Wolfe why the President is not demanding that Congress get their butts back to Washington right now. The president should not have to wait until Sept. 7, (a month from now) for them to return. The American people should not have to wait. The President should demand that they return to work now. If they refuse to do so--then it will not be on Obama, it will be on them. They should not be allowed to sit out by the beaches, go fishing, and have bar b ques in their backyards while the rest of the country is living in hell. Call their buts back to work now!!!


    August 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  3. LaVelle

    CNN, SHAME ON YOU, GLORIA Borger, SHAME ON YOU....You are suppose to report the truth and not be so BIAS..I have never seen anything like this. Gloria, you should put REBUPLICAN in front of your name, because everything you speak, its always to criticize President Barack, or the Democrats. Everyone knows what is going on HERE, every since Obama became president, many people are just afraid because hes an African American. I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime.
    So much hate and ignorance from the Republicans its ridiculous. TELL THE TRUTH CNN...RUSH Limbaugh, still is saying he doesnt know Barack is american, and the other day FOX NEWS got on Obama because he wished the muslims a happy holiday, and not easter, but ONLY MSNBC told the TRUTH, that when BUSH was president, he did the same thing for muslims and actually had a dinner at the white house. And also Barack held an easter for everyone and all of the kids an easter egg hunt and went to church for easter and spoke that Sunday. Its ridicioulous how hateful and quite scary how THE TEA PARTY, is another form of the confederate party. SHAME ON YOU CNN, for not tellling the truth. SHAME OF YOU REPUBLICANS, for not giving Barack a chance because hes African American.
    I see the same things happening, everyday, its so hard to watch. CNN you did not CARE about the budget, or did the REPUBLICANS, when BUSH was in office. THAT is why we are in this mess. And im sure GLORIA will say well you have now had three years....well you know what, THREE YEARS IS not, is NOT enough time to fix the mess the republicans did for OVER A DECADE....
    Im so sad about all of the ignorance and hate, misguided information that is going on. The Tea Party, MIchelle Bachman, they are nothing but people fulll of hate and ignorance. SHAME ON YOU CNN, SHAME ON YOU.

    August 5, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  4. TheMostWise

    "Why can't the Dems just leave the taxes alone. My family will have to reduce our vacation on the French Riviera from 3 months to 2 months and two weeks should something horrible like a tax increase should occur and that's just for starters. We've ordered a new yacht and will have to sell out old one that we bought new in 2007 if taxes increase. We were planning on keeping both so that we could enjoy the luxury of having one on both the Atlantic and Pacific. Now all of this could be in terrible jeopardy should those worthless Democrats increase our taxes. Tammy Sue, our oldest daughter is going to an Ivy League school next year and was hoping for a Ferrari; now she'll have to settle for a Porshe. This is totally unfair to her as our other two children already enrolled in elite universities have their 'dream cars' already. It seems so unfair that Tammy Sue won't be getting hers. Another bigger disappointment is that if these Democratic tax increases come to fruition, we will have to consider shrinking the size of our 6th lake house by 3000 square feet by settling for a 10,000 square foot lake home compared to the 13,000 square feet home we originally planned . This is an absolute outrage that our children won't each get two bedrooms and and extra bathrooms in our newest home. In all our other homes each of our children have enjoyed the space of at least two bedrooms so their invited friends could have their own room. This is going to be very difficult news to break to our children who have come to expect only the grandest plans. But the most wrenching dissappointment is that we will only be able to save one hundred million dollars annually as opposed to the one hundred and three million dollars we would have saved had these savage tax increases not so ravaged our delicate lives. But...somehow we must find a way to go on and try to find some meaning in a life so cruel and viciously filled with the crushing weight of the mildest tax increases. We ask all of America to "pray for our family' that we will somehow find our way out of this bleakest storm."

    August 4, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  5. Steve B, Dallas TX

    Face it America, the members of both the House and Senate should be FIRED! They are not concerned with the average American just those who make donations to their re-election campaign. If a vote of confidence was taken today I wonder how many of them would have a job tomorrow.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  6. Kelly Freeman

    As I watch you on TV here in PA, I have just heard about this "Super" Group – the "Bi-Partisan Group" who is supposedly seeking ways to help our National Debt....I MUST say that those of us who worked very hard all our lives and find ourselves now retired and VERY ill, are indeed, having terrible Anxiety Attacks about what our once-so-great USA WAS and has suddenly de=generated-to. I THINK that, in order to "Fix" any Deficit, first of all, those "Lobbyists" of which you just spoke – SHOULD be made to have to contribute all their money – when there are Americans here Starving and very ill – going through WAY TOO MUCH ANXIETY over OUR own ability to continue living and this is NOT what America was always all about – PEOPLE IN Congress who will NOT Tax the very Rich in America SHOULD be made to have to LIVE Disabled, in Trailers, with NO FOOD by the last month of each and every month, THIS HAS, indeed, made us ALL VERY ILL – and we were Disabled and ILL to begin – with – WHY DO THEY DESERVE RECESSES when they have only tried to HARM all Americans – who NEED our EARNED – Social Security Disability, anyway??? Lobbyists??? With a LOT of MONEY? What are they DOING even trying to ACCESS those "wannabe" Congresspeople who are nothing but Robots who care nothing at all for their constituents??? I am STILL having Anxiety Attacks over all that has passed through the past week anyway = and SAY : THEY should have to live in OUR position for one year and see how "Hard Line" they are against us THEN. Thank you, Wolf.

    August 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  7. Perk

    FAA problems affecting local airports ! Read Roanoke Regional Airport ! "FAA computor system has crashed twice over the last two years but if it happens now there is no one there to fix it." How are our pilots up there now and are they reporting any delays or problems thus far ? This is more serious than just the money tax payers are losing and I think it's more dangerous than what they're telling us ! Roanoke needs a new Aircraft Rescue and Fire Station ! Where are the air traffic controller's for interview ? How many hours are they working with others not showing up ? Is that a problem yet and will it be if this situation is not resolved ?

    August 3, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  8. paul

    We should shutdown all the airports till the faa is funded, its not safe to operate them without faa supervision and it would really light a fire under those political hags butts. Lets see if they want to drive, take a train or a bus back to Washington.

    August 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  9. Perk

    Gloria on Wolf Blitizer just said they can fix it and Congress does have the technology to implement a solution and they do not have to drive back to DC .Political Technicial Difficulties to the tune of billions lost of tax payer money. Agree to a solution and we can't afford this ! Come to terms reasonable and fairly but you're not blowing a billion dollars doing nothing on vacation at the beach.

    August 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  10. Perk

    Where do they live and send the news ? Ring their doorbells ? Tell em Hillary sent you ? I don't know but keeping my sense of humor and this is absurd ! We're losing millions over this FAA ! Are they on the beach ? Life guard whistle and we have another economic emergency crisis ! Don't they have an electronic remote vote for emergency situations without driving back to DC ? With all the technologly why hasn't that been invented ? Looney Tunes..."The Great American Piggy Bank Robbery." This global business needs to take a time out and the US Merry Go Round Broke Down. We're fixing it with the Super Committee but can't find Congress ! If you see them tell them to get back to Washington ! Oh don't worry and flying is safe ! They're working for free ! Told you to vote for Hillary Clinton !

    August 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  11. David Ramsay

    Mr. Blitzer:

    I just listened to the Ron Paul interview on CNN. Rep. Paul stated that Congress has the responsibility to balance the budget in fulfillment of their constitutional duties. I find it ironic that Rep. Paul, along with 234 other House members and 41 Senators, have forfeited their constitutional power and duty to legislate in tax matters to Grover Norquist through the "no tax pledge." Article I, Section I of the Constitution provides that all legislative power is vested in the Congress. There is no provision for members of Congress to assign or abrogate their constitutional duty to legislate to any other entity, whether a private citizen or lobbying group.

    As you well know – but apparently members of the general public do not – Mr. Norquist is a longtime Washington lobbyist and insider. His front group – Americans for Tax Reform – should be titled Wealthy Americans for Tax Reform. Not only has Norquist coerced these members of Congress to sign his pledge, and now traps them into increasingly rigid political stances in defense of special tax breaks for the wealthy, as he continues to define "tax increases" in ever broader terms. These "pledgers" must at some point give more weight to their oath of office to uphold the constitution, than to their ill-advised blank-check pledge to Grover Norquist.

    I would like to see you and other CNN reporters ask the "pledgers" during interviews, how they justify their adherence to the Norquist pledge in light of their oath of office and the requirements of Article I, Section I.

    August 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  12. Ray in PA

    While Congress is on a 5 week break 9% of the the House and Senate members should arbitrarily (chosen at random and not by seniority) receive layoff notices that due to ecominic circumstances they are not needed due to current economic conditions. They can apply for unemployment insurance at their local office while they restart their legal professions or begin new lobbying careers given their prior on the job training.

    August 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  13. bill486

    Maybe instead of "Congress flees Washington", it should be "Congress fleas Washington", "Congress fleeces Washington", or "Congress feces Washington".

    Either way, they can run, but they can't hide.....or win come 2012, and neither will the American workforce.

    August 3, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
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