“Congress Off for the Exits, but Few Cheer”


By traditional measurements, the 113th Congress is now in a race to the bottom with the 112th for the “do nothing” crown, with members of both parties frustrated about the lack of action. As of Wednesday, it had passed just 142 laws — 34 of them ceremonial — compared to the 151 passed by the same date by the last Congress, which produced fewer laws than any in history. The original “do nothing” Congress of 1947 and 1948 passed 906.

Sarah Binder, a Congress scholar at George Washington University, measures congressional productivity by lawmakers’ ability to address the big issues it faces. She said that the 112th left three-fourths of those issues undone, including immigration, energy, addressing the health care law and saving the postal system.

“Fast forward to almost the end of the 113th, and I’m hard-pressed to see Congress’s record getting any better,” she said.

The end of earmarking — the practice of channeling money to specific home district projects — has left many of them helpless to address the most pressing problems of their constituents, some lawmakers say.

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