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POLITICO: 112th Congress Legacy: Unfinished Business

January 2, 2013


After coming to a slow crawl on the fiscal deal, this Congress will leave a legacy of the fewest enacted laws than any since 1947; Jonathan Allen writes that the best the 112th Congress has been able to do is "avert the worst."

The 112th Congress came in with a bang, but it is crawling out with the soft whimper of failure.

For two years, President Barack Obama and Congress ignored virtually every other pressing matter to engage in an ideological war over the size of government and who should foot the bill for it.

They racked up more processes than policies: a blue-ribbon White House commission, Vice President Joe Biden's working group, bilateral talks between Obama and Speaker John Boehner, a "supercommittee," a "Gang of Six" that became a "Gang of Eight" and, finally, Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) coming to a deal that leaves open as many politically thorny issues as it solves.

They didn't even hit their deadline. The Senate voted two hours past the zero mark of midnight on New Year's morning, and House Republicans spent most of Tuesday wrangling with each other over whether and how to move forward — with a final late-night vote that passed the Senate bill on the strength of a majority of House Democrats and a minority of House Republicans. Their uncertainty was a stark reminder of how fractious the House majority has been over the past two years. After all, the bill had just passed the Senate with all but five Republicans supporting it.

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