Pew Research Center: The 113th Congress not least productive — but it’s pretty close

The 113th Congress is on pace to become the least productive Congress in the last decade, according to the Pew Research Center. 

Pew researchers on Tuesday said this Congress has pushed 24 “substantive” bills into law since January.

At the same point in time, the 107th and 112th Congresses had passed 21 and 19 pieces of “substantive” legislation, respectively.

Those are two of the least productive Congresses in recent history, judged by legislation approved.

Pew evaluated Congress’s productivity based on how many “substantive” measures have become law, discounting “ceremonial” bills.

“Substantive,” Pew said, covers everything from major policy legislation to appropriations bills. “But all with some tangible real-world impact.”

Researchers ruled out, for example, laws that rename post offices or authorize commemorative coins.

The 112th Congress wound up passing a total of 208 “substantive” bills that became law. It was still labeled the least productive Congress ever by The Washington Post.

The 106th Congress accomplished much more. Under former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), 463 “substantive” bills became law between 1999 and 2000.

Pew noted there’s been a gradual decrease in the volume of legislation since that period. In a July poll, Pew found 70 percent of Americans have a “very” or “mostly” unfavorable view of Congress.

Republicans argue it’s not a good idea to judge a Congress’s merits based on the bills it approves.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said Congress “should not be judged on how many new laws we create, we ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal.” 


—This story was updated at 5:58 p.m. and 8:10 p.m.