The Worst Do-Nothing Congress Since the 1940s

The 112th Congress, which opened on January 3, 2011 and ended January 3, 2013, was not only one of the most unpopular in history (less popular, in fact, than cockroaches, traffic jams and Nickelback), but it was also one of the laziest.

Perhaps lazy isn’t the right word… Obstructionist? Divided? Constipated! That’s the word I was looking for. The current US Congress would rather lie in a pool of its own partisan shit than stand for principled progress for the American people, who used to be their constituency some thirty years ago.

Of the more than 3,900 bills introduced, by the end of the year only 238 had been adopted, a passage rate around 6%.

From David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff from AllGov:

It is worth noting that 32 of the successful bills involved the naming of post offices and other buildings, while many others were of similar import.

Only 61 real bills went to President Barack Obama’s desk for signing, and he signed them all. This paltry productivity has put the 112th Congress on track to be the least productive in recent history. Even the 80th Congress, branded the “do-nothing” Congress by President Harry Truman in 1948, passed more pieces of legislation (those lawmakers passed 906 bills that became law).
Congressional efficiency peaked in the election years of 1956 and 1958, when Republican President Dwight Eisenhower worked with Democrats, who held slim majorities in both houses of Congress. In 1956, 638 bills were signed into law and in 1958 620. Eisenhower did veto 23 bills in 1956 and 39 in 1958.

The 104th Congress (1995-1996) previously held the ignominious distinction of being the least productive session of Congress, according to the U.S. House Clerk’s Office, with 333 bills passed.

Of course, we know that most of the legislation they do propose is slanted in favor of corporate interests and against the people, and that conservative groups like ALEC actually write most of the text themselves, which lawmakers then copy and alter slightly to appear as their own work. So… exactly what are we paying these people for?

This Congress is one of the most polarized since the Civil War and Reconstruction (which may also explain some of the underlying motives). House Republicans have spent nearly as much time trying to repeal and filibuster (115 times) the bills that they don’t like rather than propose and adopt those that they do. They have blocked raising the minimum wage and the Violence Against Women Act, and voted to repeal Obamacare more than 30 times, while both sides have agreed to allow the President to indefinitely detain and wiretap American citizens without warrants. President Obama, for his part, has vetoed a total of two bills.

Public Policy Polling found that the current Congress has an abysmally low favorability rating of  9 percent, with 85 percent of voters having a negative view. Among the other things more popular with Americans than Congress: lice, Brussels sprouts, NFL replacement refs, colonoscopies, root canals and carnies.

Which leads me to an obvious solution: we should just elect carnies to Congress. It would still be bad, but the economy is already run like one of those crooked games of chance, and at least there’d be more cotton candy. And if you can guess the weight of Chris Christie, they’ll pass relief funding for your state!

And if I were one of those congressmen, I’d be especially embarrassed to be considered worse than Nickelback.


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12 Comments on "The Worst Do-Nothing Congress Since the 1940s"

  1. emperorreagan | Jan 14, 2013 at 10:26 am |

    Sounds like a pretty sweet part time job. I could drive to DC a couple of weekends a year. Where can I apply?

  2. charlieprimero | Jan 14, 2013 at 11:46 am |

    In which Bizarro World is Congress making *more* laws a good thing?

  3. I don’t measure a congress by how many laws and rules they can add to the system. A “lazy” congress is a step forward in my book. Not enough lobby money and blackmailing going on?

  4. My father told me that during the dictatorship (60s, 70s) here in
    Brazil, our congress did the same thing. The military junta wanted to
    give the impression that the people had participation in big decisions.
    We had two parties: the ARENA (Aliança Renovadora Nacional) – the
    military – and MDB (Movimento Democrático Brasileiro). People of that
    generation said that both parties were respectively the “yes and yes,
    sir” parties cause they did what they were told by the militaries.

  5. BuzzCoastin | Jan 14, 2013 at 7:37 pm |

    > Of the more than 3,900 bills introduced,
    by the end of the year only 238 had been adopted,
    a passage rate around 6%.

    Thank God!!!
    hopefully they can get it to 1% this year

  6. That’s the problem, unfortunately. All the corporate money is still there, but no accountability or action for the people. They are being paid to be obstructionist and intransigent. All of the partisan conflict is a show to keep any real change from ever happening or threatening the precious status quo.

    I don’t want overreaching government, either. But if we’re going to elect and pay these goons, they should answer to us. However, they are actually bought and paid for by the highest bidders.

  7. John Brittingham | Apr 27, 2013 at 9:44 pm |

    The tax code is larger than all the collected works by William Shakespeare. Somehow we are going to benefit from having legislators enact more taxes, and more laws?

Comments are closed.