When the current Congress got underway two years ago, Republicans, in control of both chambers for the first time in a decade, had very high hopes. Optimists imagined all sorts of exciting possibilities, including the potential for real progress on issues such as criminal-justice reform and immigration.
GOP leaders, with the 2016 elections in mind, were eager to show that Republicans could be a governing party, and with sizable House and Senate majorities, this was their chance.
Today, however, is technically the last day of the 114th Congress, and it's worth pausing to appreciate just how dreadful it turned out to be. I'm reminded of this piece
Norm Ornstein wrote for The Atlantic
In 2011, I wrote a piece for Foreign Policy magazine about the 112th Congress; the editors helpfully titled it "Worst. Congress. Ever." It was a bit of hyperbole, but it may be no exaggeration to call the current, 114th Congress the worst ever -- at least edging out the infamous 112th.
We'll get to that comparison in a minute, but let's first take stock of the many reasons this current Congress was, as Ornstein put it, "cringe worthy."
* A capable, compromise Supreme Court nominee was ignored -- no hearing, no floor debate, no vote -- as part of a partisan blockade unlike anything in the American tradition.
* Congressional productivity, as noted in the chart above, has remained stuck at an abysmal level. Since the Republican wave in the 2010 midterms, we've had three congresses: the 112th. 113th, and 114th. In terms of bills passed into law, these three rank 1st, 2nd, and 3rd as the least productive congresses since clerks started keeping track in the 1940s. read more