Do-Nothing Congress Has Lots to Do This Month

Senate, House will only be in town together for a few days

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 2, 2013 10:57 AM CST

(Newser) – Here's a list of things Congress must get done in December or else: Confirm Janet Yellen's Fed nomination; pass a new farm bill; fund the Pentagon; renew a ban on hard-to-detect plastic guns; and extend some unemployment benefits, help for workers displaced by global trade, and a set of business-friendly tax breaks. Here's how many days the House and Senate will both be in Washington: Five. Both chambers have two-week sessions planned, but the House's runs from today until December 13, while the Senate's is Dec. 9-20, the Washington Post explains.

Yellen's confirmation looked like a slam dunk even before Harry Reid's nuclear gambit. Lawmakers have long been deadlocked on the food stamps provision of the farm bill, but must pass something or face milk-ageddon. The benefits for the unemployed and displaced, and the business tax breaks, meanwhile, will likely fall by the wayside. Of course, even if lawmakers managed to get through the entire list, this would still go down as the least productive Congress of all time. Fewer than 60 laws have been passed this year; the previous record low, set in 1995, was 88.

In this Nov. 21, 2013, photo Sen. Charles Schumer and Harry Reid, depart a news conference on Capitol Hill.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Listen, we have a very divided country and we have a very divided government. And I’m not going to sit here and underestimate the difficulty in finding the common ground. - John Boehner, defending Congress'
lack of productivity

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