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Congress Ends Session With Historically Low Productivity

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The first session of the 114th Congress closed on Dec. 18. While the House of Representatives managed to pass a near record number of bills, the overall percent that passed the Senate fell to a 25-year low.

According to the Washington, D.C., data-tracking firm Quorum, the U.S. Senate passed just 29 percent of bills sent to it from the lower chamber. This record low passes the 36 percent of House bills passed by the 113th Congress, and the 34 percent passed by the 110th Congress -- the final session of the Bush Administration.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who is retiring with the end of this term, has noted his frustration at the lack of productivity in the current Congress.

“This Republican Senate has been a flop, and that’s an understatement,” Reid said in late September, notes The Hill. He continued by highlighting “a record of inaction, obstruction and government-by-crisis.”

Reid also noted the Senate had worked the fewest days since 1955.

“They should be hanging their heads in shame for how [few] days they’ve worked,” added Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat set to succeed Reid.

But while the Senate may have been slow to produce legislation, the House of Representatives reached its own milestone. According to Quorum, the House considered 782 bills, and passed 773 of them -- a near 25-year record. Only the 110th Congress surpassed these numbers, and historical averages are 649 bills considered per Congress, and 626 passed.

Approval ratings for Congress remain low. A month before the election, the Congressional approval rating was 18 percent, reports Gallup. That number is an improvement from the 13 percent approval rating from early March, and is double the 9 percent low hit in November 2013. 

Sources: Quorum, The Hill, Gallup (2) / Photo credit: Kelli/Flickr

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