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House Releases Election Year Schedule

As lawmakers prepare to return to the campaign trail in what's expected to be a hotly contested election season, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has released the House's calendar for 2012, and it's promising to give lawmakers plenty of time at home to spread their parties' messages.

As it stands, the House of Representatives has just 108 legislative sessions next year. That's slightly less than previous election cycles. The House was in 127 days in 2010 and 119 days in 2008.

The House starts out slow, working in Washington just six days in January. Members will be in the Capitol for just eight days in April and three days in August, which is traditionally a light month for legislators in D.C.

After returning from August recess on Sept. 10, the House will be in session for just 13 days before the election on Nov. 6.

The schedule isn't sitting well with some Democratic members. "I think that the American people deserve better than following a holiday break then on top of that you would have a January where we're six days in session in Congress," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Others said that while time at home is welcome, it has come with a price. "While members appreciate having more time in their districts, the House has struggled to get even its most basic work done," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement.

However, Cantor noted in a letter to members that the chamber has been able to get things accomplished. "The House has taken 800 roll call votes through October 14 of this year," Cantor wrote, "By the same time last year, the House had taken just 565 roll calls."

He also added that under this year's calendar fewer bills have come to the floor "under the suspension of the rules," a fast-tracking procedure that prohibits amendments. That, Cantor says, furthers the Republican majority's goal of a more deliberative legislative process.

In addition to changes in the days in which the House is in session, Cantor has also altered the times at which votes can occur. Floor votes will start no earlier than 1:00 p.m. ET and will end before 7:00 p.m. ET unless the body is considering an appropriations bill. In that case, check your coffee maker because it could be a long night. The schedule also calls for the last vote of the week to be done before 3:00 p.m. ET. For some context, the last vote this week ended at 11:44 a.m. ET.