Despite rumors of a 'deal', "The major issues that we think are necessary to jump-start the American economy continue to languish," reflects one lobbyist on what Bloomberg reports will be Congress's least productive year ever, with just 56 pieces of legislation signed into law so far. The former record low, reached in 1995, was 88 new laws. 2013 was supposed to be the year lawmakers, free of immediate election pressures, would revamp U.S. immigration policy, pass a debt-lowering budget and expedite a pair of trade deals. Instead, partisan rancor grew deeper; and to make matters worse, the politicians took plenty of time off - the House has been out 191 days, and the Senate 199 days.
Business Roundtable lobbyists wanted 2013 to be the year lawmakers, free of immediate election pressures, would revamp U.S. immigration policy, pass a debt-lowering budget and expedite a pair of trade deals.
Instead, Congress is on pace to have its least productive year ever, with just 56 pieces of legislation signed into law so far. The former record low, reached in 1995, was 88 new laws.
The reasons are many. Partisan rancor grew deeper as a result of the government shutdown. Elected officials in both parties fretted about primaries for party loyalists who would accuse them of abandoning party principles.
“There was a time not long ago that gridlock was seen as a positive for the economy and for industry,” Yardeni said. “Gridlock was a sign of success in our political system, because it showed the system was in balance. But now the factions are so far apart and their differences so irreconcilable that it’s creating problems for the economy.”
After three years of standoffs over the budget and the U.S. deficit, negotiators are now eying only a limited plan to ease some of the automatic cuts next year. That deal wouldn’t end uncertainty for holders of U.S. debt and for businesses, Yardeni said.
2013 is shaping up to be a year that will be remembered for roadblocks and delays in Congress, punctuated by occasional half-steps.
Scores of measures were put off, including a reauthorization of the Amtrak passenger rail system, and not a single annual appropriations bill was completed. If the annual defense authorization bill isn’t acted on this year, it will be the first time ever.
While Obama’s approval ratings are near record lows, the public’s view of Congress is at rock bottom.
A November 7-10 Gallup Poll found that Americans’ approval of the way Congress is handling its job dropped to 9 percent, the lowest in the polling firm’s 39-year history of asking the question. The poll of 1,039 U.S. adults had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.