The least productive Congress in the modern era?

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The 112th Congress is set to have the worst legislative year in nearly seven decades, according to an analysis by USA Today.

Of the 3,914 bills that lawmakers have submitted this session, only 61 or approximately 2 percent, have become actual laws. In the calamitous congressional sessions of 2011, 90 laws were passed. According to USA Today, the only other time that Congress failed to pass at least 125 laws was in 1995, when the federal government completely shut down because of congressional gridlock. The paperdid note that Congress came back in 1996 and passed 245 laws, including a variety of tax reform packages, which has not been the case for 2012.

Political scientists Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein have argued that the recent Congress was even more dysfunctional than any other in the past. In an op-ed in The Washington Post, they primarily blamed Republican lawmakers for the gridlock in the legislature.

“The filibuster, once relegated to a handful of major national issues in a given Congress, became a routine weapon of obstruction, applied even to widely supported bills or presidential nominations,” Mann and Ornstein wrote.

In a statement to USA Today, Doug Heye, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor R-Va., said Senate Democrats were to blame for having blocked 90 bills on economic recovery.

The lame duck session following the November presidential election will be busy for lawmakers, as they are set to debate many high-profile issues, including the Bush tax cuts and automatic across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, that are set to kick in next year

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.