The Least Productive Congress Ever?

The Least Productive Congress Ever?

Thursday marks 100 days since the 118th Congress took office. If it feels like they’ve barely done anything so far, it’s because they basically haven’t. This is the least productive Congress in more than 70 years – perhaps ever.

All told, Congress has passed eight bills this year, none of which are particularly impactful. Here’s what they’ve done:

  • Invited President Biden to give the State of the Union address; that would be the “free space” on your Congressional Bingo Card
  • Authorized the use of Capitol grounds for two memorial events
  • Prevented retirement funds from investing in certain assets and clarified which waters are governed by the Clean Water Act, but those two bills were vetoed
  • Overturned a local crime law in Washington, D.C.
  • Declassified information about the origins of Covid-19 and ended the national emergency related to the pandemic (these are probably the two most impactful bills)

Even beyond the content of the laws, the numbers don’t lie: No Congress has passed fewer bills by this point since at least 1951, when’s data begins.

In the past, Congresses approved an average of 21 bills by this point. Granted, it is harder to pass laws when the two chambers are controlled by different parties like they are now; but divided Congresses passed an average of nearly 19 bills by now – 2.3 times more than today’s total.

Technically, the 118th is tied with the 92nd Congress, which took office in 1971. The 92nd has the tiebreaker, however, because one of those eight bills successfully raised the debt ceiling – a looming crisis today that the current Congress is choosing to ignore.

If Congress wants to act, there are plenty of opportunities: the U.S. is set to default on its debts this summer, Social Security becomes insolvent in a decade, and the immigration system desperately needs bipartisan reform.

71% of Americans already think the country is on the wrong track, and Congress’ 100 days of inaction certainly won’t help. The grace period is long over; it’s time for Washington to get to work.