Congress passed “only” 80 bills in 2011 making this their least productive year since records began in 1947. I suppose Congress could not go back and count legislation passed in previous years.
Is this a bad thing? Looking back on last year, we still have no budget, Boehner ceded debt ceiling raises to the president in August, twelve (out of 535) Congressional voted to continued unemployment and tax cuts, and their grand finale was the NDAA stripping large portions of the Bill of Rights from the people.
What about the president? Well he has been pretty busy in 2011. He signed 34 new executive orders. My personal favorite is Executive Order 13589:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to further promote efficient spending in the Federal Government, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. My Administration is committed to cutting waste in Federal Government spending and identifying opportunities to promote efficient and effective spending. The Federal Government performs critical functions that support the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.
As they serve taxpayers, executive departments and agencies (agencies) also must act in a fiscally responsible manner, including by minimizing their costs, in order to perform these mission-critical functions in the most efficient, cost-effective way. As such, I have pursued an aggressive agenda for reducing administrative costs since taking office and, most recently, within my Fiscal Year 2012 Budget. Building on this effort, I direct agency heads to take even more aggressive. More…
There is nothing wrong with gridlock and the founding fathers actually set up the government with this in mind. However, there are expectations of Congress outlined in the Constitution that are not being met and the president’s growing power and disregard for the Constitution are cause for concern.
These are issues that should be addressed by the candidates in their debates and by Congressmen who still value their oath of office.
It’s official: Congress ended its least-productive year in modern history after passing 80 bills — fewer than during any other session since year-end records began being kept in 1947.
Furthermore, an analysis by The Washington Times of the scope of such activities as time spent in debate, number of conference reports produced and votes taken on the House and Senate floors found that Congress set a record for legislative futility by accomplishing less in 2011 than any other year in history.
The Senate’s record was weakest by a huge margin, according to the futility index, and the House had its 10th-worst session on record.
Of the bills the 112th Congress did pass, the majority were housekeeping measures, such as naming post office buildings or extending existing laws. Sometimes, it was too difficult for the two chambers to hammer out agreements. More often, the Senate failed to reach agreement within the chamber.
That left much of the machinery of the federal government on autopilot, with the exception of spending, where monumental clashes dominated the legislative session.
“Absent unified party control with a bolstered Senate majority, I think it’s just very hard to get things done, particularly in a period when revenues aren’t growing and the decisions are how to cut, and how to cut in the long term,” said Sarah Binder, who studies Congress as a Brookings Institution scholar and professor at George Washington University. “Congress just isn’t very good at solving long-term problems.”