113th Congress least productive in modern history

Dylan Stableford
Yahoo News
National Park workers remove barricade at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial as it reopens to the public in Washington
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National Park workers remove a barricade at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial as it reopens to the public in Washington October 17, 2013. The White House moved quickly early on Thursday to get the U.S. government back up and running after a 16-day shutdown, directing hundreds of thousands of workers to return to work. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

In news that should come as no surprise to Americans, who endured the 2013 partial government shutdown and fight over Obamacare, the 113th Congress has been declared the least productive in modern history, the Washington Post reports.

According to congressional records cited by the paper, there have been fewer than 60 laws enacted in 2013, well below the previous record low of 88 in 1995, when "the newly empowered GOP congressional majority" stared down the Clinton administration.

And despite there being a month left in the year, the 2013 figure is not likely to improve. As the Post points out, the schedules of the Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate will align for only five days in December. The House, which returns to Capitol Hill Monday, expects to adjourn by Dec. 13; the Senate, which does not return from its Thanksgiving break until Dec. 9, expects to adjourn for the year on Dec. 20.

The official end of the 113th congressional session is Jan. 3.

"With such little time to get things done," the Post added, "senior House GOP and Senate Democratic advisers suggest that a trio of benefits that expire Dec. 31 are not likely to win approval. Those include some unemployment benefits, funding to help workers displaced by global trade, and a collection of business-friendly tax breaks, including some for research and development."

Meanwhile, congressional leaders seem resigned to the divide.

"We have a very divided country and we have a very divided government," House Speaker John Boehner said last month. "And I'm not going to sit here and underestimate the difficulty in finding the common ground, because there’s not as much common ground here as there used to be.”

"We should not be judged on how many new laws we create," Boehner said in July. "We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal.”

That kind of approach to gridlock is, in part, why congressional approval is at an all-time low.

According to a Gallup poll conducted last month, Americans' approval of the way Congress is handling its job dropped to just 9 percent, the lowest in the polling service's 39-year history of asking the question.

"Although the shutdown is now history," Gallup said, "Americans' views of Congress have not recovered, but instead have edged lower."

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