The expiring 113th Congress was the second least productive in modern history, with only a busy lame duck period helping it narrowly avoid the dubious title of least productive, says a new Pew Research Center study.
The report showed that the current two-year Congress, which officially concludes next week but which essentially ended the week before Christmas, enacted 296 laws — 13 more than the 112th Congress of 2011 and 2012. Of those, Pew categorized 212 as “substantive” — that is, anything besides minor or ceremonial legislative actions like building re-namings and commemorative-coin issuances. That’s four more than the previous Congress.
When Congress broke for its mid-election recess in September, it had passed just 185 laws, putting it on pace to be the least-productive in recent history.
The 111 bills passed in the lame duck session after the November elections accounted for 37.5 percent of the 113th Congress’ entire legislative output, Pew says. Those measures included a $1.1 trillion spending bill that avoided another government shutdown, extending several dozen expiring tax breaks, the confirmation of several key presidential nominations and enacting a massive defense-policy bill that included aid to forces fighting the Islamic State.