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Thank Goodness for the Least Productive Congress in Modern History

Posted on Wednesday, January 3, 2024
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by Shane Harris
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AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris

US Capitol Dome Houses of Congress Washington DC

Despite a contrived, end-of-year uproar from the corporate media about how 2023 was the “least productive” year for Congress in recent memory, the fact that relatively few new laws were put on the books is one thing that the American people can be thankful for in the new year.

Overall, just 29 bills passed both chambers of the legislature last year, putting the 118th Congress on pace to pass just 58 bills, well behind prior Congresses. The 117th Congress, which ran from 2021-2022, passed a total of 358 bills, while the 116th Congress passed 334.

While some of the current gridlock can be attributed to the fact that Republicans control the House while Democrats control the Senate, the 118th Congress has been unusually unproductive even by the standards of divided government. The last three Congresses which had split control, the 104th (1995-1996) 112th (2011-2012), and 113th (2013-2014) Congresses, passed 326, 272, and 282 bills, respectively.

In fact, the 118th Congress is on pace to pass the fewest bills of any Congress since the 72nd, which met in 1931 and 1932.

The legacy media has been quick to assert that the dearth of new laws is a terrible thing for the country and the product of “Republican obstructionism.”

“Capitol Hill stunner: 2023 led to fewest laws in decades,” proclaimed Axios, going on to describe the current situation as “bleak.” People Magazine blamed “Republican infighting” and “House GOP turmoil” for the lack of new legislation, while an opinion piece for The Philadelphia Inquirer argued that the GOP House “did little but sow chaos.”

The New York Times, in remarkably similar language, also cited “chaos and paralysis that gripped the House in 2023.” Reliably left-wing opinion columnist Dana Milbank of The Washington Post simply described it as the “worst Congress ever.”

Congressional Democrats have likewise lamented their inability to pass many of their liberal policy priorities. Late last month, for instance, House Democrat Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar whined about a supposedly “historic amount of dysfunction,” blaming “extreme MAGA Republicans.”

Both Democrats and their mainstream media allies assume that passing more laws is necessarily a good thing. But the suggestion that the relative success of a Congress should be judged by the sheer amount of legislation it passes likely sounds ridiculous to most Americans outside the D.C. bubble who know that virtually every new law means less freedom, more spending, and more power for the political class.

When the American people elected a Republican House in November 2022, they explicitly did so to stop the rash of extreme legislation passed by the 117th Congress, most notably the trillion-dollar spending bills that had sent inflation soaring. The House GOP undoubtedly experienced its fair share of embarrassments and infighting during 2023 due to its slim majority, and conservatives didn’t win every battle, but the fact that Republicans had retaken the House meant that Democrats’ most radical schemes were dead on arrival.

House Republicans have also forced Senate Democrats to negotiate on spending priorities. Many of these negotiations are currently mired in stalemate (see, for instance, the current impasse over Ukraine funding and border security, and the ongoing government funding battle) but that is certainly better than the alternative of Democrats having free reign to pass whatever they wish.

Meanwhile, with a few notable exceptions, the legislation that Congress did pass in 2023 was worthwhile. After some disagreement that resulted in both sides compromising, Congress funded the military for 2024 and averted a government shutdown (for now). Congress also passed bills creating new online resources and expanding benefits for veterans, requiring the declassification of all information regarding the origins of COVID-19, and providing more support for cadets who attend military academies.

To be sure, Congress still has some important issues to address, and quickly. When lawmakers return the second week of January, they will have just a few days to pass a long-term funding bill. The border is in crisis, and Senate Democrats have refused to budge on a compromise bill to combat illegal immigration in exchange for funding for Ukraine. The two parties are also still far apart on additional measures to address the threat from China.

But on each of those issues, Republicans now have leverage that they did not have prior to 2023. As a result, voters can expect any legislation that does pass to at least incorporate some conservative priorities.

During testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2011, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia argued that “gridlock” in Congress was precisely the way the Founding Fathers set up the legislature to operate.

“We wanted this to be power contradicting power,” Scalia said. “Americans… should learn to love the gridlock. It’s there for a reason so that the legislation which gets out will be good legislation.”

As Scalia also noted, Alexander Hamilton explicitly says in Federalist 73 that “every institution” outlined in the Constitution is “calculated to restrain the excess of law-making and to keep things in the same state in which they happen to be at any given period.”

In other words, the 118th Congress is working exactly as the Founders intended.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @ShaneHarris513.

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USN Retired
USN Retired
4 months ago

Ah, but Biden has published around 130 executive orders. Many are unlawful and circumvented Congress.

Rik
Rik
4 months ago

Hooray for less regulations and taxes!

John Bass
John Bass
4 months ago

Three cheers for the founding fathers, they were indeed brilliant men. Too bad they’re not around today to fix all these Democratic messes…I doubt they would put up with any of it.

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
4 months ago

The only good thing about a stalled Congress is the Democrat Marxist agenda is delayed. The bad thing is they stall border security and energy policies of Republicans.

Max
Max
4 months ago

The nation should be thankful. The Leftist will just wait until they have control of both houses and the TURMOIL will start again. This is just wishful thinking that the voter elect representatives that will do the proper legislation as per the Founding Fathers intentions and get rid of all the wasteful legislation that has been past. I know that overall that this will not happen anytime soon.

Thinking
Thinking
4 months ago

The dems want a rubber stamp congress. Ole Joe keeps saying the reps will not agree on a immigration policy. He is not even enforcing the immigration laws on the books now. I agree with judge Alito the Congress functions exactly as it should, were things reversed the dems would be the obstructionists they accuse the reps off now. My hope is that the election will bring a strong majority for the reps. If not, this country is done. Schumer and the gang will see to it. They don’t want a democracy because then they can’t blame the other side for nothing getting done. Ole Joe does not enforce the immigration laws now or any other, even defies Supreme Court orders and does what he pleases. Blaming extreme MAGAS. Who are these extreme MAGAS they blame everything on I have never met one. Just patriotic Americans that want to save America, the land off the People, by the People and for the People. Which ole Joe has never acknowledged. Satanic tyranny is all he knows

Melinda
Melinda
4 months ago

Yes! No laws are good laws, we have too many already. Go MAGA! And if Dems are obstructing fixing the border, maybe they’ll get voted out.

Steve Greenwell
Steve Greenwell
4 months ago

“That government governs best which governs least.” Thomas Jafferson

Theresa Coughlin
Theresa Coughlin
4 months ago

There is a bright side to congressional gridlock: the more gridlock there is. the less damage they can do.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
4 months ago

Republicans= RNC Estd vs MAGA
2 bad didnt pass Daylight Savings bill
DC is the Swamp & Nothing gets done

Philip Seth Hammersley
Philip Seth Hammersley
4 months ago

We patriots are only achieving a “holding pattern” until we can get DJT back in and some REAL Republicans in the Senate!

anna hubert
anna hubert
4 months ago

Even with the little they did they managed to do irreparable harm Thank God they did not work to full capacity Dead weight that we carry

Chuck
Chuck
4 months ago

Mr. Robert Welch always said that he preferred ignorant politicians in office; smart people are too good at wresting our freedoms away from us.
Life, Liberty, and Property are at stake when congress is in session.

Fred Noel
Fred Noel
4 months ago

This Congress passed many positive legislation bills that are good for the American Citizens. However, Chuck Schumer refuses to bring them to the floor of the Senate. Mitch McConnell (the turtle) hasn’t push to get them to the floor. One prime example is the Congress passed a bill declaring the Mexican Drug Cartels as a international terrorist organization. If the Senate would passed this bill the U.S. military could have gone after the Mexican Drug Cartels on Mexican soil.

Sean Rickman
Sean Rickman
4 months ago

When the liberal socialist leftist democrats pass a law its almost always about a way to get more votes for them even if it hurts AMERICA.

Jackie
Jackie
4 months ago

My question is – what’s in all of those bills that they pass every year?? Do we, any of us, have any idea?? I don’t!!! So, they are in Washington D.C. The House is in session on the average, 146.7 days per year!! The Senate is a bit more but not by much!! So, with Congress in session for 146.7 days per year and, generally, well over 300 bills are passed, that’s more than 2 bills passed per day!!! How do they find so much stuff that’s wrong with America that they have to pass this many laws???
Just for fun, I googled how many laws have been passed since the creation of America. The answer was both amusing and confusing!! The answer says, “Current estimates on the number of Federal laws in America range anywhere from 15,000 to 50,000 – that’s a huge difference and there is no agency that can state exactly how many laws we currently have??? This proves to me that our federal government is way too big and can’t control itself anymore!!!
Does Congress need to be in session so many days?? Why doesn’t Congress convene for a month in the spring and a month in the fall and if they can’t get the important business of the country done in that amount of time, so be it!!! That way, they won’t be up in our faces everyday with some other ignorant, stupid, taxing, piece of legislation, at least two a day that they are in session!!! How many laws could be removed because of outdatedness or stupidity – like there has to be a hitching post in front of every store, etc!!!!! But we just keep adding law upon law and the American public has no idea what is being done in Washington D.C.!!!

Joanne4 justice
Joanne4 justice
4 months ago

FIRE ALL THESE PEOPLE!

Myrna
Myrna
4 months ago

Biden needs to be stopped.

Albert Friedrichs
Albert Friedrichs
4 months ago

Thanks for this analysis. I have to agree. Reckless spending has been way out of control. We & future generations will pay dearly. Thanks to the GOP, it’s not worse! Imagine how mich better it will be when our GOP has a little more unity!

Likeitis
Likeitis
4 months ago

Great article – sorely needed – thanks!

Randall L. Beatty
Randall L. Beatty
4 months ago

All are lazy do nothing for the voters of this country they all need to go time to get better people in the White House and Washington all the do is collect a check and do nothing for the voters in this country.

Chuck
Chuck
4 months ago

I should think Pope Frances would have considerable sway over fellow traveler Ortega.

Bruce
Bruce
4 months ago

amend

Fred
Fred
4 months ago

Every American should embrace making America great again (MAGA) after 3 years of Bidumb attempting to destroy America! We should still be proud to be American and cherish the lives given to keep America free and great. Those who gave their lives to make America great and free were white, black, brown, yellow, Christian, Jew and more! MAGA should not be about party affiliation, but everyone being proud to be American!

Not so fast
Not so fast
4 months ago

Actually Several republicans died this year in congress
So it was quite productive Lol

Ellen
Ellen
4 months ago

The Democrats do little but blame the Republicans when so much of the failtures as I see it are due to the Democrats liberal progressive policies in Congress and other places. The Dems blame everyone else but themselves for not getting anything much done. This country is in such terrible debt now. Biden is going around rules to get things like paying for college tuitions when the supreme court voted him down on this. He opened Pandora’s box on the border and the box is still spewing evil.I am very worried about this country. I worry about my grandchildren. I worry that it will be difficult to get this country on a good path. We don’t have the strong leadership we need in order to be respected in the world and at home. I was once a Democrat but not since Obama when I left after two years of his reign. The House I hear will not fund the government unless the Border is closed. I hope the House follows thru with this. It is the right thing to do.

marty
marty
4 months ago

Pelosi’s parting shot included $ 3.5 Trillion, Yes, with a capital T ! Lovely parting gifts from and for Democrats and every Lefty, Green, Diversity hole to bring us up to $34 Trillion in DEBT $20 Billion a month interest to China ?.

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