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Allen West: Is the GOP looking at taking too much time off?

Congressman-elect Allen West -- who won the ardent backing of local tea party groups -- is already questioning GOP leadership, asking whether its new congressional calendar devotes enough time to congressional work.

In a letter (also here) to House Majority Leader-Elect Eric Cantor, the newly-elected Republican notes that under the schedule, Congress would only be in office 10 days in its first month.

"As we know, Congress needs to work to create jobs, reduce the deficit, strengthen our economy, limit the size of government and contend with a plethora of national security issues," West said.  "How are we to do that when, among other things, we start off being in session only ten days the entire month of January?"

Cantor said last week that the calendar -- which gives lawmakers a full week away from Washington each month -- is aimed at giving lawmakers more opportunity to listen to their constituents back home.

But West says Congress would only be in session 123 days "one-third of the entire year."

"I am sure we both agree that the issues before us today require the members of Congress to go beyond what has been the accepted practice in the past to meet the challenges of the future," he wrote to Cantor.

West said he's also concerned with the "retreats" in the month following the swearing in - some of them taxpayer funded- for members of Congress. West says he's already decided he'll skip at least two.