Congress Poised to Make Dubious History

The 113th Congress is on track to be the least productive in history.

Politico says the current Congress has only passed 49 laws so far, which is the fewest since World War Two. The “do nothing” 80th Congress passed 388 laws by July of 1947.

In the last 66 years, there are just four occasions in which fewer than 100 laws were enacted by a similar point in the legislative calendar. And two of those instances were in the last two Congresses, with the previous Congress making just 62 laws through November 2011.

The dysfunction is partially the result of the toxic relationship between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans, which helped trigger the first government shutdown in 17 years last month and a series of flirtations with a historic debt default.

The slow pace of legislating comes despite huge problems facing Washington: A $17 trillion debt, the prospects of a second government shutdown in mid-January, the bumpy rollout of the health care law and overseas threats from places like Iran. Meanwhile, congressional inaction on a new farm bill is poised to upend rural America and send milk prices soaring. Even legislation that would seem to appeal to some in both parties — like an immigration overhaul — is stuck.