Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Congress in 2013 turned fewest bills into law than any year since at least 1947

Rep. Joaquin Castro gave a public breakast interview -- bemoaning congressional productivity -- to the McAllen Monitor April 24, 2014 (Delcia Lopez photo, the Monitor).
Rep. Joaquin Castro gave a public breakast interview -- bemoaning congressional productivity -- to the McAllen Monitor April 24, 2014 (Delcia Lopez photo, the Monitor).

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro spent a decade in the Texas House where action can grow hectic.

So, the San Antonio Democrat told Carlos Sanchez, editor of the McAllen Monitor, he was chagrined to experience the bustle to no result of Congress in his first year there

In an April public interview in McAllen, Castro said that "if you look at 2013 in terms of the productivity of Congress, one of the most striking things to me was how each of us ... 535 members of Congress can be very busy during the day ... but at the end of it all not very productive. That was a very strange thing to grasp. 2013 was the least productive year in congressional history since we’ve been keeping records."

Castro continued: "Harry Truman in the 1940s campaigned against a ‘Do-Nothing Congress’ and that ‘Do-Nothing Congress’ passed over 900 bills. Congress last year passed 67 or so. So that gives you a sense of the context and the environment which I came into, which I experienced in that first year."

Least productive, really?

Castro spokeswoman Laura Zapata emailed us a link to an undated chart published by USA Today attributed to information from the House Clerk’s Office. The chart indicates that through late December, the 113th Congress had passed 72 measures into law. Also, the National Journal reported Dec. 19, the output amounted to the tiniest fraction of 6,366 bills introduced by lawmakers, according to House and Senate records, adding "fodder to the narrative building in recent years that" Congress "has become a dysfunctional, polarized, overly partisan legislative body."

The website for the clerk’s office offers one-page accounts of each year’s congressional proceedings. According to the web page for 2013, 73 measures made it into law through the year. That was a low compared to previous low-end years including 1995 (88 bills passed into law); 2011 (90); 1981 (145); 1969 (190) and 2012 (193), according to the clerk’s web pages.

We rated Castro’s claim as True. See our boil-out to the right.