Brief History: Congressional Recess

Brad Markel / Getty

12/15/98 - Washington, DC. Empty Chamber of House of Representatives.

Health care, appropriations, financial reform, global warming: Congress has a lot of work to do. Starting Aug. 3, lawmakers began to decamp en masse from the nation's capital for a five-week break. What gives?

Despite the name, summer recess is often as much work as it is play: Congress's members must press flesh back home to remind voters of all the good work they've been doing and to raise vital campaign funds. The Legislative Branch has made a tradition of taking August off, going back to the first Congress, in New York City in 1790. Back then, the break lasted until...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!