"Livingston has earned a lot of credit among members over the years for backing unpopular bread-and-butter needs like pay raises," says congressional correspondent James Carney. "They don't understand why he would now champion a reduction in the quality of life." The issue also goes further than skipping golf outings. "If you're a West Coast congressman," says Carney, "a five-day week on Capitol Hill makes it impossible to go home and touch base with constituents." Some wags are now asking another question: Is this a backhanded way to impose "natural" term limits by making pols work hard enough to retire?
Now that he's the boss, what does House Speaker-to-be Bob Livingston want his minions to do? Work harder -- or at least more efficiently. Livingston has told his colleagues he wants the House to meet five days a week, instead of the customary three. Not surprisingly, the reaction among members has been outright rebellion -- and a question many thought would never come up: Is this the Bob we've all come to know and love?