This fall promises clashes on Capitol Hill as democrats and republicans square off on issues of fiscal policy and budgets. In the closing days of summer, lawmakers are back home, checking the political temperature of the electorate. YNN's Bill Carey says it happens every summer during "August Recess."
CENTRAL NEW YORK -- It is tough to work when the "dog days" of summer arrive.
In Washington, originally built on swampland, it has long been tradition for members of the House and Senate to take a recess during the month of August, escaping the capital's heat to return home to their states and districts to talk to the people they represent.
Lawmakers will spend the days trying to get in touch with constituents. Attending large public events or unveiling new legislative initiatives. Or both.
"That's very creative, I like it," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
On this day, New York's junior U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Dan Maffei find themselves judging a beef cooking contest at the State Fair, then discussing a new bill to address the problem of invasive species invading New York's waterways. All the while finding time to talk to people.
Gillibrand said, "People often have a little more time to talk to you and they're thinking about things and they have a chance to explain what's on their mind to me."
In recent days, the legislators say the obvious topics have been raised. Primarily, the economy.
"Yes, we're seeing a little bit of improvement in the economy, but there's still so much more to go," Maffei said.
Continued gridlock on Capitol Hill has also drawn voters' attention.
"Most people are frustrated. And they feel that Washington isn't working for them and they're very, very, very frustrated and they want solutions and they want things to be addressed," Gillibrand said.
The theory is lawmakers, back home, are often moved constituent sentiment to be more open to compromise.
Maffei said, "Maybe we'll put it off, but do it in September and, that way, the members of both parties will go back to their districts. They'll hear from their constituents and when they come back, hopefully, they'll be ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work."
There has been one other job for lawmakers as they tour their home turf. To find ways to carve out some personal time.
In Gillibrand's case, a weeklong family vacation that stretched from Niagara Falls, across the Finger Lakes to Cooperstown.
Gillibrand said, "My boys had a very fun-filled week and their mother is exhausted."
"But ready to work?" our reporter asked.
"Very ready to work, yeah," Gillibrand said.
And hoping some work actually gets done.