This session of Congress, the 113th, is currently the least productive Congress ever. With only 125 public laws enacted since it began nearly two years ago and an August recess coming up leading straight into midterm elections, it seems like the record for least done is all but won.
“Even by [congress’] terrible standards, they’re going to underwhelm,” says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and chief economic policy advisor to U.S. Senator John McCain.
“Our nation has many deep needs for permanent reforms, whether they’re immigration, or education, or entitlements taxes. You look around and there’s big legislation that’s really necessary. Congress is doing none of that,” says Holtz-Eakin, now president of American Action Forum. “They can’t even get the little things done like … the annual spending bills.”
So will this Congress be able to get anything done before the next one starts? Holtz-Eakin has little hope for any big initiatives but he does think there will be some tax extenders, and possibly reauthorization of terrorism risk insurance and the Export-Import Bank.
President Obama has publicly lambasted the 113th Congress saying, “This has become the least productive Congress in modern history, recent memory. And that’s by objective measures – just basic activity.”
Of course quality comes before quantity, and a Congress that passed a few very important bills could be more noteworthy than a Congress that passed a large number of smaller bills. The 113th Congress, however, hasn’t been able to do that either, says Holtz-Eakin. “They’re not going to get anything major done … get ready for the 114th Congress and see you in January.”