The 113th Congress is on track to pass just 55 bills in 2013 -- a record low level of productivity.
But despite the historic levels of inter-party polarization, some legislators managed to work through the gridlock. We took a look -- with data from Find the Best -- at a handful of members of Congress who succeeded in shepherding bills past the purgatory of “referred to committee.” Each member's efficiency percentage was calculated by dividing the number of bills sponsored by the member that were passed out of committee by the total number of bills he or she sponsored.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.): 76 percent efficiency
One example: A bill to modify the requirements under the STOCK Act regarding online access to certain financial disclosure statements and related forms. The one bill sponsored by Reid that was signed into law by President Barack Obama this year reverses some of the STOCK Act-created transparency designed to combat insider trading by members of Congress.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.): 43 percent efficiency
One example: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. In January, Obama signed a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, notwithstanding opposition from House members to expanded protections for Native Americans, undocumented immigrants and LGBT individuals.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.): 37 percent efficiency
One example: Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act. Murray’s bill would give the Department of Veterans Affairs the ability to help ill or injured veterans and their spouses with fertility counseling and adoption. The bill has been reported out by the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee but hasn’t received a floor vote.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.): 34 percent efficiency
One example: PEPFAR Stewardship/Oversight Act. Menendez’s legislation, which has been signed by the president, expands oversight over the use of funds to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.): 32 percent efficiency
Two examples: Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. This comprehensive immigration reform bill passed the Senate. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) indicated, however, that the bill would not be taken up in the House.
Fix Gun Checks Act. This bill, which got out of committee, would ensure that all individuals banned from buying a firearm are listed in a national criminal background check system and would require a background check for every firearm sale, including those at gun shows. Given skittishness over the concept of a “national registry” and the National Rifle Association's fierce opposition, prospects don’t look good for the bill.
On the other end of the legislative effectiveness spectrum …
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
Chambliss introduced just one bill this year -- the Fair Tax Act -- which would repeal the federal income tax and abolish the Internal Revenue Service. It did not get past the committee stage in the Senate (surprise!).
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.)
Vitter had the distinction of sponsoring the most bills in the Senate this year: 67. The only bill that Congress agreed to was a resolution “recognizing the goals of Catholic Schools Week and honoring the valuable contributions of Catholic schools in the United States.” Way to go!
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas): 85 percent efficiency
One example: Deficit Reduction and Economic Growth Working Group Act. Sessions’ bill, which passed the House, would create a working group composed of members from both chambers of Congress to recommend ways to reduce the deficit and promote economic growth. The Senate has not taken it up.
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.): 85 percent efficiency
One example: Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act. In an era of do-almost-nothing Congresses, maybe the most the legislative body can be expected to do is pass some gas.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.): 79 percent efficiency
One example: SKILLS Act. Foxx’s bill, which the House passed, would reform federal work force development programs. Since this is the GOP-controlled House, it would also eliminate labor representatives from state work force boards.
Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah): 71 percent efficiency
One example: Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act. There appears to be a beef over President Obama's “unilaterally” creating national monuments. The struggle continues.
Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.): 57 percent efficiency
One example: A bill to permit official photographs of the House to be taken while the House is in actual session on a date designated by the speaker. Although Congress hasn’t managed to extend long-term unemployment benefits, it has made sure that citizens won’t go without an equally vital resource: pictures of their representatives.