112th Congress Set To Become Most Unproductive Since 1940s
WASHINGTON -- As 2012 comes to a close, the 112th Congress
is set to go down in American history as the most unproductive session
since the 1940s.
According to a Huffington Post review of all the bills
that hit President Barack Obama's desk this session, Obama has signed
219 bills passed by the 112th Congress into law. With less than a week
to go in the year, there are currently another 20 bills pending
presidential action. In comparison, the last Congress passed 383 bills
, while the one before it passed 460.
The 104th Congress (1995-1996) currently
holds the ignominious distinction of being the least productive session of Congress, according to the U.S. House Clerk's Office
which has records going back to 1947. Just 333 bills became law during
that two-year period, meaning the 112th Congress needs to send nearly
100 more bills to Obama's desk in the next few days if it wants to avoid
going down in history -- an unlikely prospect, considering that both
chambers are squarely focused on averting the "fiscal cliff" before the
The 112th Congress has done far less than the 80th Congress (1947-1948), which President Harry Truman infamously dubbed
the "Do-Nothing Congress." Those lawmakers passed 906 bills
that became law.
While Obama has signed several pieces of large, consequential legislation in the past two years -- such as sanctions on Iran
and the National Defense Authorization Act
allowing the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without charge
-- many of the bills passed by Congress have been small and
At least 40 bills, including ones awaiting Obama's signature,
concerned the renaming of post offices or other public buildings.
Another six dealt with commemorative coins.
Meanwhile, significant pieces of legislation that have traditionally
received bipartisan support -- such as the reauthorization of the
Violence Against Women Act -- have been blocked
House Republicans have also held votes to repeal Obamacare more than 30 times
since gaining control of the chamber in 2011, despite the fact that
such a measure has no chance of passing the Democratically controlled
Senate or being signed by Obama.
When asked for comment on the record of the 112th Congress, Adam
Jentleson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.),
pointed to the 115 times the Republican minority has held up a bill's
passage by threatening to filibuster it. House Speaker John Boehner's
(R-Ohio) office did not return a request for comment.
The lack of bipartisanship in Congress has been lost on no one. In
April, Thomas Mann of the left-leaning Brookings Institution and Norm
Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute published a Washington Post op-ed
saying that the GOP deserves the blame for the dysfunction.
"We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than
40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional," they wrote.
"In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed
it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge
that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) also cited the hyper-partisan,
unproductive atmosphere of Congress when she announced her retirement in
"[W]hat I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be. Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years
in the Senate to change over the short term," she said. "So at this
stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not
prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate,
which is what a fourth term would entail."
Congress' approval rating currently stands at 18 percent