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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

On Friday, the House of Representatives will join the Senate on recess, leaving the 113th Congress on pace to be one of the most ineffective in history.

Its reputation for inaction is well earned. As the Pew Research Center’s Drew DeSilver points out, as of Wednesday this Congress has passed just 142 laws — fewer than any of its recent predecessors did in their first 19 months.

And Congress isn’t just failing to act on major iniatives, like gun, immigration, or tax reform. It’s also passed fewer ceremonial bills — think post office renamings, or commemorative coin authorizations — than any of its predecessors in the past 16 years.

Pew Productivity Chart

As House Republicans demonstrated this week, even doing nothing has become exceedingly difficult for this group. Republican leaders were forced to pull their immigration bill from the floor without a vote on Thursday, after failing to collect enough votes for it from within their own caucus. This, despite the fact that the bill has no chance of ever becoming law, and is — by House Republicans’ own admission — substantively useless.

After allowing the most right-wing Republicans to order from a menu of changes, it appears that the House will be able to pass its message bill on Friday. But as long as the Republican majority is filled with “a lot of members who just don’t want to vote for anything,” as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) put it, Congress will continue to struggle to pass many actual laws.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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