Lawmakers defend taking vacation before reaching a deal

Sen. Warner and former Rep. LaTourette weigh in during WTOP\'s \'\'Ask The Lawmakers\'\' program. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
Ask the Lawmakers program

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 5:41 pm

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WASHINGTON – Members of Congress are about to take a week of vacation with the pending sequestration deadline approaching.

On WTOP’s “Ask The Lawmakers” show, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., former Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Oh, and Virginia state Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st District, joined WTOP’s Dave McConnell to discuss issues facing lawmakers, including time management.

In response to members taking a vacation at such an important time, LaTourette says the media sensationalizes what time off really means for representatives.

“I served 18 years in the House. It’s a media drummed-up thing. You’re never on vacation when you’re a member of the House, you’re never on vacation when you’re a United States senator and you’re never on vacation when you’re the president of the United States. You know, luckily they’ve invented things like the telephone and fax machines and the Internet … ” LaTourette said.

Warner did not comment about Congress taking the vacation — which falls the week of the Presidents Day holiday.

President Barack Obama plans to take a long weekend in celebration of the holiday.

Amid the sequestration and vacation discussion, one caller asked about term about term limits.

“Governor, would you consider term limits? Because it looks like some have been there too long and nothing gets done,” he said.

Term limits are not a good idea, said Warner.

“I think you end up with term limits, you get folks in who, candidly, don’t fully understand how this business operates. We’re operating in the largest enterprise in the world — the federal government. I think the smartest term limits is an informed electorate. If we’re not doing a good job, fire us,” Warner said.

Wittman weighed in, saying he felt term limits were more important for some positions than others.

“I think term-limiting those folks in leadership positions (is important), to make sure folks rotate through those areas. That’s really where the gatekeepers are in the system …

“You do have people with new ideas and fresh ways of doing things and you make sure that people have a chance at their turn at leadership. I think that keeps the process going and keeps it on its toes,” Wittman said.

Instituting term limits also avoids the importance put on seniority that often dominates the vote for leadership positions, Wittman said.

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