Members of both houses of Congress, and on both sides of the partisan aisle, have not minced words in bemoaning how little they’ve managed to accomplish this year. Their constituents are facing difficulty paying for a tank of gas, meeting the monthly mortgage payment and saving enough money to take summer vacations of their own. So it’s not surprising that federal lawmakers are taking some heat for going ahead with their August recess.

Business as usual? Perhaps not.

As members of the Brownwood Area Chamber of Commerce will find at their monthly luncheon today, a “recess” is not necessarily a “vacation,” at least not completely. Congressman Mike Conaway is visiting throughout his district, talking to the voters who sent him to Washington to represent their opinions and - above all - grounding himself anew in the reality of life in America. The nation’s capital does not provide the best perspective to gain the insight lawmakers need, so any time away from Washington - when spent wisely - can help bring focus and a sense of urgency to elected officials.

Criticizing members of Congress for taking a recess in such difficult times is merited if all they have planned is a trip to the beach or a mountaintop retreat. But a recess during which members seek out and listen to the views of their constituents could prove to be the most productive time they spend all year.

Brownwood Bulletin