In its first year, the 113th Congress passed just 55 substantive pieces of legislation, 65 laws total counting measures like post-office renaming and commemorative-coin authorizations. It surpassed the 112th Congress, which passed 63 substantive measures in its first year and previously held the title for least-productive in recent memory.
Even the 80th Congress, which President Harry Truman nicknamed the “do-nothing Congress” had passed 395 bills into law by the end of 1947, its first year.
Pew’s analysis, which goes back to the 104th Congress which presided from 1995 to 1996, finds that the 108th Congress from 2003 to 2004 was the most productive in terms of substantive legislation. They passed 144 such bills, and 54 ceremonial ones.
Among the legislation Congress failed to send to the president this year: a farm bill, immigration legislation, or any appropriations bills. They did manage to pass an aid package after Superstorm Sandy, renew the Violence Against Women Act, and reach a deal on student loan rates.
The body’s approval rating, which is usually on the low side, plummeted to a record low of 9 percent approval in early November, just weeks after the government shutdown ended, according to Gallup. By early December, they had recovered by a modest 3 points, for an approval rating of 12 percent.