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Longer work week may increase proficiency


Normally, it wouldn't be news when the top leaders of an organization announce that it will be imposing a five-day work week.

But when the organization happens to be the U.S. House of Representatives and the change is such a departure from current practice, then perhaps it is indeed news.

Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who will become House Majority Leader when the new congressional session begins next month, said last week that members of the House should expect to work Monday through Friday beginning Jan. 4.

To be sure that this won't be a work week that will be overly taxing, members will be expected to come in by late Monday, with business concluded early Friday afternoon. Still, that will be a big change for members whose Washington work week for much of this year began late Tuesday and concluded late Thursday. And that was when Congress was in session and not on one of its frequent recesses.

Why is this change--a modest one in our view--important for risk and employee benefit managers? It could mean, we hope, that with more time spent in Washington, lawmakers will not have to rush to complete action on bills but instead be able to give important issues--extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act comes to mind--the careful attention they deserve.

So often the "crowded congressional calendar" is used as an excuse from legislators on why they couldn't act on a worthy piece of legislation. Well, perhaps the calendar wouldn't be so crowded if there were more days on it to consider proposals.

We hope Rep. Hoyer's commitment to a longer House work week is not just rhetoric and that members--who were elected, at least in part, to draft and enact needed legislation--embrace it.