-By Ryan Grimm & Sabrina Siddiqui
January 8, 2013- WASHINGTON — Welcome to town, new members of Congress. Now hit the phones.
For an incoming member of Congress still basking in the glow of electoral victory, it's a message that hits those in both parties hard — the most direct indication that time in the people's chamber will be a bit different from the version taught in civics classes.
For new Democrats, that message was delivered on Nov. 16, barely a week after the election, at an incoming-member orientation held by the House campaign arm.
The amount of time that members of Congress in both parties spend fundraising is widely known to take up an obscene portion of a typical day — whether it's "call time" spent on the phone with potential donors, or in person at fundraisers in Washington or back home. Seeing it spelled out in black and white, however, can be a jarring experience for a new member, as related by some who attended the November orientation.
A PowerPoint presentation to incoming freshmen by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, obtained by The Huffington Post, lays out the dreary existence awaiting these new back-benchers. The daily schedule prescribed by the Democratic leadership contemplates a nine or 10-hour day while in Washington. Of that, four hours are to be spent in "call time" and another hour is blocked off for "strategic outreach," which includes fundraisers and press work. An hour is walled off to "recharge," and three to four hours are designated for the actual work of being a member of Congress — hearings, votes, and meetings with constituents. If the constituents are donors, all the better. The presentation assured members that their fundraising would be closely monitored; the Federal Election Commission requires members to file quarterly reports.