Politics
June 3, 2014
Will gridlock continue to block action in Washington?

Congress remains mired in partisan conflicts that prevent even so-called “must-pass” legislation from becoming law. The failure of legislators to adopt appropriations bills closed much of the federal government for 16 days in October 2013. They eventually approved an omnibus appropriations measure to keep the government operating until October 2014 and a suspension of the debt ceiling to allow the nation to pay its bills into 2015. Also in October 2013, the Obama administration botched the rollout of the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace, although 8 million Americans were able to sign up for health insurance by mid April. Faced with GOP efforts to stymie President Obama's nominees, Senate Democrats abolished the filibuster for most presidential appointments. Responding to federal inaction, states began addressing such issues as gun rights, immigration, marijuana use, abortion and environmental protection. Unable to obtain congressional cooperation, Obama issued executive orders to implement federal policy.

President Barack Obama speaks during an event in the East Room of

            the White House on April 30 following a failed vote on a bill to raise the minimum wage

            to $10.10 an hour.  President Barack Obama speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House on April 30 following a failed vote on a bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. With most of his initiatives blocked in Congress, Obama has said he will bypass legislators in an effort to move his policies forward. (AFP/Getty Images/Brendan Smialowski)

The current Congress, based on its first year, is turning out to be even less productive than the 112th Congress, which adjourned in January 2013 and was widely panned as the least productive in history. And the future looks no different.

Despite the 112th Congress's modest legislative productivity, it adopted more laws in each of its two year-long sessions than the 113th Congress did last year. 1 Gridlock has left Congress “less popular than a cockroach,” according to Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader. 2

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