Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., was visiting Temple Hill Academy, a public K-8 school in New Windsor, N.Y., near Newburgh, 60 miles north of New York City, when he made the ribbing remark.
He was reading Norman Bridwell's "Clifford Goes to Washington" to a first-grade class as part of the National Education Association's annual Read Across America Day, held on the school day closest to the birthday of children's book writer Dr. Seuss, which is Saturday.
After reading about the Big Red Dog's visit to the nation's capital, Maloney complimented the students on their good behavior.
He then made the joking dig at the place he now works, The Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., reported.
"Congress is like first grade, only not as well behaved," he said to the 6- and 7-year-olds. "You should come to Congress and teach us how to behave."
Maloney, who defeated Tea Party-backed Republican incumbent Nan Hayworth in November, told reporters separately he's been in Washington only a few weeks, "but I don't like what I see."
"We are not making good decisions in Washington," he said, pointing to the deep, automatic federal-spending cuts known as sequestration that began at 12:01 a.m. Saturday and are projected to shrink the size of government $85 billion over the next seven months.
Maloney, 46, said the cuts will hurt education programs, including the Head Start Program for low-income children and special-education curriculums.
One of Maloney's daughters is a special-education student.