For Arkansas Federal Officials, Recess Is No Recess

by J.R. Davis ([email protected]) 75 views 

“RECESS”a suspension of business or procedure often for rest or relaxation.

It’s recess on Capitol Hill.

Congress is out of session, the House and Senate are empty, and the members are gone.

It happens every August, and every August, there seems to be a general consensus among the majority of voters that our elected officials aren’t doing a whole heckuva lot during said recess.

But that’s not the case, according to members of the Arkansas delegation.

“This month will be packed with constituent meetings, tours of factories and businesses, visits to LRAFB, and speeches at civic clubs,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin (R, AR-2) when asked about his August plans. “That’s a district work period, not a vacation by anyone’s definition,” Griffin added.

“The schedule can get a bit hectic from time to time, but it’s worth it – it’s what I was elected to do,” echoed fellow U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R, AR-3). “Anytime I can get away from Washington and get back to Arkansas, I do it,” added Womack, who says the August recess is the best time to connect with his constituents.

While constituent meet and greets are a big part of recess, there’s a lot more to it, like the travel, as U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D) and John Boozman can attest to. They represent the entire state — all 53,179 square miles of it.

“As I do every August, I’ll be traveling to every corner of our state,” said Pryor, who, according to spokesperson Lucy Speed, has scheduled stops in the Northwest, Northeast, central, and southern parts of the state this week alone.

“Each day, I’ll meet with Arkansans and talk about what matters most to them-jobs, the economy, student loans, small business, the Farm Bill, you name it,” added Pryor.

According to Patrick Creamer, spokesperson for Senator Boozman (R ), the first term Senator is set to host his annual agriculture tour across parts of the state, meeting with farmers, ranchers, timber producers as well as agriculture researchers at two of the state’s universities.

“This year it takes on even more importance with the Senator’s recent appointment to the conference committee that will be working on a compromise to the different farm bill reauthorization bills that the House and Senate passed,” said Creamer, calling the tour “intense”.

Tour stops include Fort Smith, Russellville, De Queen, Hope, Magnolia, and Fayetteville, to name a few.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford (R, AR-1), a member of the House Agriculture Committee, is planning a similar tour later this month.

“I will be hitting the road on a regular basis,” said Crawford, who’s planning to visit every corner of his district before heading back to Washington. That’s just a small part of it.

According to spokesperson, Jack Pandol, Crawford is currently touring the border with Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul in preparation of fall’s immigration showdown in the House.

“They started in California and are working their way east to Texas, where they’ll end up,” Pandol noted, adding “He’s excited to use this opportunity to get firsthand knowledge of the problems we’re facing down there and how we can translate that into smart legislation up here.”

The schedule isn’t any easier for freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R, AR-4), the newest member of the delegation, who represents the state’s largest district at 20,951 square miles.

“Congressman Cotton will spend August traveling across Arkansas touring businesses, meeting with constituents at ‘coffee with your congressman’ and attending local events,” said Caroline Rabbitt, spokesperson for Cotton. “He has an events calendar on his website and Facebook page and encourages everyone to check frequently to see when he will be their area,” she added.

On top of the district work, Cotton announced Tuesday evening that he will challenge Pryor for his Senate seat in 2014, setting up one of the hottest races in the country. Both men, as you may have already encountered, will be even busier balancing official business with campaigning.

But all campaigning aside, August will no doubt be a marathon for each member of Arkansas’s Congressional Delegation with several town halls, tours, meetings, ceremonies, speaking engagements, along with several more events and travel slated on their calendars. It’s part of the job, as Womack put it, and any one of them would tell you that.

But recess it is not.