The current Congress has worked just as many days as its legislative predecessors. It just has a lot less to show for it.
According to a CNN analysis of congressional records that looked at bills that became law and the number of days lawmakers worked, members of the House have spent more than 150 days and Senate just over 140 days in session so far, comparable to previous Congresses at this point in the term.
But of the thousands of measures introduced, only 132 passed both. About one-fifth of those measures were to approve official names for post offices.
In the previous Congress, the House worked 286 days and the Senate worked 349 days. That Congress passed 383 bills, according to Library of Congress records. Each Congress spans a two-year cycle.
It wasn’t always this way.
The 111th Congress in 2009 “was exceedingly productive. It was a time of unified government,” said Thomas Mann, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks…”
That year, the Democrat-controlled Congress passed the health care reform law. The controversial measure’s passage ushered in a new era of tea party-backed Republican freshman and gave the GOP control of the 112th House in 2010. Those freshmen vowed to repeal the health care reform act and crack down on government waste and abuse.
“The Republican majority in the House, it has been one of the least productive in modern history, not surprisingly,” Mann said…
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, recently called on House Speaker John Boehner to nix additional recesses…”Instead of recessing yet again, the House should remain at work and pass critical legislation that will create jobs for the middle class that will actually be signed into law. Republicans must not run out the clock on the economy,” Pelosi wrote Boehner in a letter.
The House recessed anyway.
One of the least productive Congresses in history, the conservative-controlled knuckledraggers who tried to stop every post-war measure introduced by Harry Truman – resulted in Truman’s re-election. I don’t know if American voters are any smarter or well-informed, nowadays. High-speed communications doesn’t mean much if all you absorb is crap news-as-entertainment – whether on Fox TV or a sleazy news aggregator on the Web.
The Party of NO accomplishments has brought public opinion of Congress down to an all-time low — with their own public rating in single digits. The cowardice and incompetence of Democrats may not inspire voters to do anything more than replace them, too. With our immaculate two-party chain gang system, that means replacing a know-nothing with another do-nothing.