The halls of the John A. Wilson Building in Northwest are quiet now, and D.C. Council staffers who normally dress professionally are wearing blue jeans, polo shirts or casual blouses. Council members are dressed casually, as well — that is, when they are there, following an intense and rancorous legislative period.
The laid-back atmosphere personifies the annual D.C. Council recess period. This year, the council adjourned as a body on July 9, and organizationally on July 15 for the council support staff such as the Office of the Secretary, Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Budget Director and the Information Technology Office. It’s back to business on Sept. 16, when the Committee of the Whole and its legislative session reconvenes.
With the exception of a joint Committee of the Whole and Committee on Human Services public roundtable scheduled on July 23, no committee hearings are planned until after Sept. 16. That doesn’t mean that councilmembers and their staffs won’t be working.
“I will be working throughout the recess because there are a lot of housing issues that need to be taken care of,” D.C. Councilmember Anita Bonds (D-At Large), who chairs the Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization, said. “I will work non-stop on that and other matters that I need to pay attention to.”
Bonds won’t be alone in terms of maintaining an active work schedule.
“I will be working in Ward 4 trying to help my constituents,” D.C. Councilmember Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), said. “Constituent Services are important to the people in my word and I will do that throughout the summer. In addition, I will be looking at the legislative proposals that I would like to work on in the fall session.”
D.C. Councilmember Robert White (D-At Large) said “I will be working here.“
“I do plan to go to a couple of legislative conferences to educate myself on issues and best practices,” he said.
D.C. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) plans to engage District residents through a series of meetings.
“I will be here in the Wilson Building,” Grosso said. “I am planning to hold town halls throughout the city dealing with education and I will try to meet with principals of schools to get a sense of what they need and what their concerns are.”
Grosso serves as the chairman of the Committee on Education. However, education won’t be his only topic of concern.
“I will also take a tour of small businesses in the city and will pay attention to businesses in Ward 8,” he said.
D.C. Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) said she will hold office hours in her ward during the recess and hold events, too. D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6) largely echoed what Nadeau’s doing and said he looks forward to a visit to the District’s youth detention center and make site visits in his ward.
While the lawmakers will be working during the recess, they also plan to take some time away from their legislative duties.
D.C. Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) plans to travel to Canada, St. Paul, Minn., and Detroit to visit friends, attend her parents’ 55th wedding anniversary celebration and unwind at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) will have a short vacation to visit her college roommate in New Jersey and relax in Maine and during August teach courses at the George Washington University School of Law, where she works as a professor.
D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) will combine both work and leisure, saying “I will spend time with my family and get some work done.”
Perhaps the councilmember with the most defined recess will be D.C. Councilmember Trayon White (D-Ward 8), who recently became a new father again with his second child and first daughter, Phoenix. His summer recess will likely be spent doing “Daddy duty.“