113th Congress just barely avoids being the least productive in history

Thanks to last-minute flurry of parochial bills, 113th Congress avoids distinction as least-productive ever

The 113th Congress will just have to settle for being bad instead of the worst – at least as far as productivity is concerned.

President Obama signed a whopping 51 bills Thursday, the White House announced, bringing the most recent tally of laws enacted in the past Congress to 286, according to a Los Angeles Times review.

That would be just three more than the 283 public laws enacted in the previous Congress that served from 2011-12, which was the lowest tally since formal record-keeping began in 1947.

The previous low before that was 333 public laws in the 104th Congress that came to power in the Newt Gingrich Revolution of 1994.

As usual, the so-called lame duck period of Congress that followed the elections proved anything but. Of the 286 laws passed since this Congress convened in January 2013, more than a third were passed and signed just since Nov. 1.

But for every major piece of legislation like the $1.1-trillion funding bill (or “Cromnibus”) and a new defense authorization bill, there were dozens of parochial items among the unfinished business.

In fact, a Times review found that 56 of the new laws produced by this Congress – about 1 in every 5 – is simply to name or rename federal buildings, roads, or bridges – including 38 post offices.

The final act of the Senate when it adjourned late Tuesday evening was to approve a resolution “honoring conservation on the centennial of the passenger pigeon extinction.” The measure does not require a presidential signature, though.

Follow @mikememoli for more news out of Washington.

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