The House and Senate practice of working three or four days a week is coming under fire from a former Senate Republican who said the schedule shortchanges the public and doesn’t give members enough time to fix the country’s problems.

Recently retired Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe also rapped her own party for being “far too harsh” on key issues, especially those impacting women, and slapped the more partisan tone in both chambers.

In the “3 with IOP” interview feature from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, Snowe conceded in her three questions that the rise in negative politics and partisanship in Washington prompted her leave Congress last year. “That was the catalyst for my decision,” she said.

The former Maine senator has since become an advocate for reform in Congress, starting with her own Republican Party which she hopes will develop a new policy strategy aimed at women. “The Republican Party has been far too harsh in recent years,” she said.

She said without a new approach, the gender gap that favors the Democrats could widen.

Snowe is also calling for less partisanship and more deal-making. She said that in recent years, “it was no longer about solving problems, it was more about advancing the agenda for political parties and certainly to the detriment of our country.”

In addition to more Republican-Democrat cooperation, she is also pushing for a five-day work week, a change from current practice.

“It is important for senators and members of the House to be there in Washington the full work week to concentrate on the very complex issues facing the country,” said Snowe.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at