You know what’s worse than the 112th Congress, which passed a historic low of 23 items by this time last year? The 113th Congress, which has managed to eclipse that record for futility and “accomplish” even less. At the sixth month mark, the intensely divided current session of Congress has approved a paltry 15 legislative items. That’s it. (Yet somehow, the House was able to vote to repeal Obamacare for the 37th time, even though the largely symbolic tally won’t make the law go away as Republicans would like.)
Moreover, of the 15 items passed, none of them are considered significant. Conspicuously missing from the list are any sort of bills pertaining to jobs or the budget, and there hasn’t been progress made on significant issues such as taxes, gun control and climate change. But maybe that’s partly because, in addition to doing less, Congress is also working less.
“Perhaps this historic failure is a function of Republicans cutting down the total work days for the House to just 126 days,” Sarah Jones at PoliticusUSA writes. “Yes, we have a part-time House of Representatives, and if they worked in the private sector, this would make them ineligible for health insurance, pensions, paid days off, etc. But lucky for them, they get to suck off of ‘big government’ like ‘lazy, entitled welfare queens’ and ‘thug union members.’ ”
Speaking of laziness: To add to the perception that Congress isn’t doing its job, Monday it let student loan rates double—from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent—because lawmakers literally did nothing. And it’s not like they were busy tending to other important matters. As Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas of The Washington Post’s Wonkbook noted, they took the entire week off. Talk about a nice, long Fourth of July holiday “weekend.”
No wonder then that the latest poll shows Congress has reached a record low in its approval ratings.
The 112th Congress made history as the most unproductive session since the 1940s (records only go back to 1947) for passing only 220 laws. For perspective, President Harry Truman labeled his Congress the “Do-Nothing Congress” for passing just 906 laws. I know math isn’t exactly the forte of Republicans, but 15 versus half of 906 is pretty basic.
The Republican minority in the Senate has abused the filibuster in historic measure, while at the same time the House of Representatives is so divided within the Republican Party that they have blocked even the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act. The House can’t get anything passed without Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi bringing Dems on board, due to the inner Republican divide.
...Before Republicans took over the House, we had the same level of movement in Congress as prior to Obama taking office. “In 2011, Congress passed just 90 bills into law. The only other year in which Congress failed to pass at least 125 laws was 1995,” USA Today explained. That was another Democratic President, Bill Clinton, with a Republican Congress. “When Democrats controlled both chambers during the 111th Congress, 258 laws were enacted in 2010 and 125 in 2009, including President Obama’s health care law.”
The 113th Congress is the real Do-Nothing Congress.
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.
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