Conservatives like Tanner are happy for Congress to stay out of town, theorizing that a better government is one that does less.
The office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., which schedules the calendar in that chamber, defended the time away from Washington.
"It's critical for members to have district work periods to hear from their constituents on a variety of matters," said Cantor spokeswoman Megan Whittemore, "including chronic unemployment, the next steps toward addressing immigration and our debt crisis."
Whittemore stressed that the House has been active, passing legislation on student loans, job training, the Keystone pipeline, cybersecurity and other measures.
The office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid did not respond to CNN's questions about that chamber's schedule.
Whatever votes either chamber has taken, neither has found time to fully deal with two looming fiscal crises. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has indicated the nation could hit its borrowing limit as soon as Labor Day. And funding for much of the federal government is due to run out on Sept. 30, raising the possibility of a government shutdown without a resolution.
As Congress leaves for August recess, most funding bills remain in limbo and there is no outline or even talks over how to address the borrowing limit, or debt ceiling.
Some say that when members return in September, the logistics of the calendar will make things harder.
"(The schedule) is very poorly arranged to get things done," said Bill Galston, chair of the Brookings Institution's Governance Studies Program. "It's a series of starts and stops, punctuated by flights to and from fundraisers and their districts."
Galston and a bipartisan organization he works with called "No Labels" would rather see Congress stay in town for three consecutive weeks and then recess for a full week.
That's similar to what House Republicans initially planned when they took over the chamber -- two weeks in Washington and one week at home.
Instead, though, the 2013 House calendar is dotted with small clusters of time and, as CNN found, a rate of being in town of 56 percent.
That is the average, for long spans of time it can be less. In January, for example, the House was in the capital just seven days. The Senate 10.