Congress has Passed Barely One Law a Week in 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013
(book by Tony Fucile)

Once Congress returns from the Thanksgiving break, lawmakers will have little time to stave off this year’s session from going down in the history books…as one of the least productive ever.


Congress has adopted only 52 bills through the first 11 months of 2013, which averages out to barely one a week so far.


To compare, lawmakers passed 113 laws during the first year of George W. Bush’s second term as president.


In 2007, they approved 120 pieces of legislation from January through November.


Of the 52 measures that cleared both houses this year, just 44 are considered “substantive,” with the other eight being commemorative or ceremonial—like naming a subsection of federal tax code after former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and naming a bridge across the Mississippi River between Illinois and Missouri after baseball legend Stan Musial.


Fifty-two is considerably fewer than the 70 substantive bills passed in the average year between 1999 and 2012, according to NBC News. However, this year’s product of 44 substantive bills is at least better than the record of only 41 set at this point in 2011.


“The major urgent areas of concern in the country just have not been addressed,” Norm Ornstein, a congressional expert at the American Enterprise Institute, told NBC News. “It’s pretty pathetic.”


Congress still has eight more voting days scheduled before the end of the year.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

'Do-Nothing' Congress on Track for One of the Least Productive Years Ever (by Carrie Dann, NBC News)

Congress on Track to Set Do-Nothing Record (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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