Shocking numbers: The least productive Congress since The Great Depression

Written by Jeppe W

Nov.16 - 2023 11:11 AM CET


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The current U.S. Congress, consisting of a Republican-controlled House and a Democrat-controlled Senate, is marking a historically low level of productivity, passing only 21 laws to date this year. This sluggish pace places the 118th Congress on track to be the least productive since the Congress of 1931-1932, during the Great Depression era.

The situation is marked by internal conflicts and frustrations, as exemplified by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who expressed his dissatisfaction on the House floor, highlighting the lack of significant achievements by the Republican majority.

Amidst this stagnation, the Congress managed to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling but failed in other areas.

The lack of legislative progress led to the unprecedented ouster of a House speaker mid-session and a prolonged search for a replacement.

The situation is further complicated by a thin Republican majority in the House, which has struggled to pass substantial legislation. The Senate, for its part, has handled the rare legislation from the House while seeking bipartisan agreements on issues like immigration and aid to Ukraine.

This lack of effectiveness has impacted Congress's approval rating, which stood at a mere 13% in October. Voter dissatisfaction is evident, with widespread frustration over the economy, immigration, and other pressing issues.

The 21 laws passed so far this year by Congress include basic measures like keeping the government operational and naming local facilities.

Compared to previous sessions, where post office renamings boosted legislative numbers, the 118th Congress is significantly lagging.

This year's Congress contrasts sharply with the Congress of 1931, which managed to pass 21 laws within three months, despite starting its session in December. The current pace of lawmaking in Congress is notably behind that of the last five sessions, which averaged 355 laws each.

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