Lawmakers pass more blame than bills in do-nothing Congress

Party leaders spar: 'Are you kidding me?'
Party leaders spar: 'Are you kidding me?'


    Party leaders spar: 'Are you kidding me?'


Party leaders spar: 'Are you kidding me?' 02:08

Story highlights

  • Congress is on track to have its least productive year in recent history
  • Boehner blames the Democratic Senate, White House, cites 148 House-passed bills
  • Many targeted Obamacare, dealt with shutdown with no chance of passage
  • Democrats blame House conservatives for impeding legislative progress
Congress is on pace to have its least productive year in modern history, earning a "do-nothing" label and adding another unwanted statistic to a body already facing chronically low approval ratings.
Cue the blame game.
"To date, the House has passed nearly 150 bills this Congress that the United States Senate has failed to act on," Republican Speaker John Boehner argued Wednesday. "The Senate (and) the President continue to stand in the way of the people's priorities."
Democrats are tossing responsibility right back in the GOP's lap, arguing that hardline House conservatives are blocking legislative progress.
Meanwhile, America's national legislature is growing increasingly dysfunctional.
So far, 56 bills have been signed into law in the first session of the 113th Congress. Assuming legislators don't pick up the pace next year -- and the smart money says they won't as the midterms draw near -- this will become the least productive Congress in at least the last 40 years, according to a CNN analysis of congressional records.
Is the fact that fewer bills have become law necessarily a bad thing? That depends on your point of view. But representatives and senators on both sides of the aisle readily acknowledge that some major issues have not been addressed.
Congress hasn't passed a budget, among other things. None of the 12 annual spending bills has made it to the President's desk. We don't have a new farm bill. Immigration reform is stalled. Tax and entitlement reform are dead in the water.
Adding insult to injury, in October the federal government had its first partial shutdown in nearly two decades.
The most important issue in Washington political circles, naturally, is who's responsible.
Democrats point out that roughly one-third of the 148 bills passed by the GOP-controlled House so far this year were attempts to repeal, delay or defund Obamacare that had zero chance of passing the Senate or surviving a certain presidential veto.
More than a dozen of those measures were also partisan, piecemeal spending bills passed during the government shutdown that had no chance of being signed into law.
Some of them had nothing to do with major issues at all, such as the bills renaming courthouses in Sherman, Texas, and Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has called the House GOP a bunch of "modern-day anarchists." But Republicans argue that Democrats are standing in the way of priorities such as entitlement reform. Democrats are standing in the way of a major overhaul of the tax code, they insist.
While both the House and the Senate passed farm bills, Democrats are blocking much-needed changes to the country's agriculture laws, Republicans say.
As is usually the case in Washington, your opinion of which party is to blame is probably determined by which party you belong to. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans are growing more ideologically distant by the day.
And that is a recipe for gridlock.