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A Brief Recap Of A Pretty Uneventful Year On Capitol Hill

The divided Congress was mired in gridlock throughout 2023. A Brief Recap Of A Pretty Uneventful Year On Capitol Hill Giphy

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Lawmakers have left D.C. for the holiday recess and as 2023 draws to a close, they really don’t have too much to show for their time in Congress this year.

Let’s be fair

Before we dig into what elected officials did (or more accurately, didn’t do) while on Capitol Hill this year, let’s start by acknowledging one important factor: Both chambers are very narrowly divided.

The Democrats have a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate and Republicans control the House by a razor-thin margin. Anytime there’s such an equal balance of power in a divided Legislative Branch, there’s going to naturally be some serious gridlock.

Nevertheless, 2023 has been particularly unproductive with President Joe Biden receiving a paltry 27 bills from Congress.

What they did

It’s easy to point fingers and wonder what legislators are actually doing with their time, which is reflected in the rock-bottom approval rating that Congress currently has among voters. Of course, the job isn’t as easy as it might appear and much of it involves negotiation and debate that can move at a snail’s pace.

And even if you might have to look a little harder than usual to find it, there were a few accomplishments sprinkled throughout the year, including:

  • Avoiding default: You might say that the initial problem was created in large part by Congress, but at least they reached a deal in June that prevented a government shutdown.
  • Troop support: Active-duty servicemembers and military veterans (particularly those who are disabled) often depend on government aid, and Congress was able to approve a meaningful boost in funding.
  • Emergency ending: After three long years, lawmakers finally brought the COVID-19 emergency order to an end and also moved to declassify relevant documents about the pandemic’s origins.
Chris Agee
Chris Agee December 23rd, 2023
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