Here's how many days Congress will spend away from the office in 2018

Members of the 115th U.S. Congress take their oath of office on the floor of the House of Representaives January 3, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

College students aren't the only ones headed off on spring break.

After passing a $1.3 trillion spending bill, Congress has left Capitol Hill for a two-week hiatus, which, according to the Associated Press, marks the unofficial end of the legislating season.

In 2017, Congress was in session for 145 days out of 261 work days. That's far less time than the average American worker puts in at the office. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average full-time employee receives just 11 days of paid time off after working for a year, 15 days of paid time off after working for five years and 18 days of paid time off after working for 10 years.

This year, Congress plans to spend even less time in session, due to the midterm election. Based on the 2018 calendar released by both chambers at the end of last year, members of the Senate are planning seven fewer days in session this year than in 2017, while members of the House are planning for 24 fewer days in session. Ahead of Election Day on Nov. 6, the House will be off for three full weeks and the Senate will be off for two.

Out of 261 work days, the House and the Senate will be in session together for just 121.

Roll Call created the visual representation of the Congressional calendar below, highlighting the days when both chambers are in session in yellow and the days when only the Senate is in session in blue.

Kristin Nicholson, the Director of the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University, explains to CNBC Make It that while the Senate may have more days in session than the House, that doesn't necessarily mean Senators are in Washington, D.C. more often.

In fact, she says, some legislators may be working from their districts, even on voting days.

So what exactly are members of Congress doing when they're not on Capitol Hill? Nicholson, who worked in a Congressional office for 20 years, says most leaders are putting in time in their districts.

"Almost all of those days a member will be working for any number of hours either in their district office, out at events, at press conferences or campaign events," she says. In an election year, days when Congress is not in session are a crucial time for legislators to engage with constituents.

And while the calendar may make it look like members of Congress get a whole lot of vacation, Nicholson says that there is no real way to calculate how many days a member actually takes off, since they create their own schedules. Nevertheless, the idea of being away from the office for the majority — if not all — of August probably sounds pretty good to most American workers.

"I think it is fairly typical for most members to take at least a little bit of that August break for vacation, but even then it is unusual for a member to not work at all," Nicholson says.

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