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Americans are not happy with Congress. According to the most recent Gallup poll, only 17% of the public approves of the 114th Congress, one of the lowest approval ratings in history.

And people have reason to be mad. Between the 2013 government shutdown and marathon filibusters, Congress has certainly made a negative impression in recent years. But just how inefficient has Congress been?

Using data from GovTrack.us, InsideGov ranked the 21 most recent Congresses by the number of laws they enacted. This includes every bill and joint resolution passed in Congress that became a law. Interestingly, the five least-productive Congresses have all occurred in the last 10 years.

To be fair, quantity doesn’t guarantee quality, but the number of enacted laws is still a good measure of how productive each Congress is. We’ll start with the Congresses that enacted the most laws and work our way to the true “Do-Nothing” Congresses.

95th Congress (1977-1979)

Enacted Laws: 804
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

The 95th Congress has the distinction of being the most productive Congress of the last four decades. In the wake of the Watergate Scandal, Sen. Abraham Ribicoff sponsored the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which became one of the major pieces of legislation passed by the 95th Congress.

93rd Congress (1973-1975)

Enacted Laws: 772
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

House Speaker Carl Albert oversaw the resignations of Vice President Spiro Agnew and President Nixon after political scandals rocked the administration.

100th Congress (1987-1989)

Enacted Laws: 761
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

Championed by Rep. Norman Mineta and Sen. Alan K. Simpson, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 is one of the crowning achievements of the 100th Congress. The law granted reparations to Japanese Americans who had been forcefully interned during World War II.

96th Congress (1979-1981)

Enacted Laws: 736
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

Democrats held on to their majority in both houses during Jimmy Carter’s second term, despite the growing unpopularity of the president.

94th Congress (1975-1977)

Enacted Laws: 729
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

Spurred on by Jimmy Carter’s call for more environmental protection, the 94th had one of the most ambitious environmental agendas of any Congress, passing several landmark bills such as the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (1976) and the National Forest Management Act (1976).

99th Congress (1985-1987)

Enacted Laws: 687
Senate Majority: Republican
House Majority: Democratic

The conclusion of the 99th Congress also saw Democrat Tip O’Neill step down as speaker of the House. O’Neill was the second longest-serving speaker in the U.S. history, holding the title from 1977 to 1987.

98th Congress (1983-1985)

Enacted Laws: 677
Senate Majority: Republican
House Majority: Democratic

As part of President Reagan’s “War on Drugs,” the 98th Congress passed several laws revising U.S. criminal code, including the Comprehensive Crime Control Act (1984) and Aviation Drug-Trafficking Control Act (1984).

101st Congress (1989-1991)

Enacted Laws: 665
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

Even with the election of George H. W. Bush, the Democrats maintained their control in both houses. Among the major legislation passed by the 101st Congress was the Immigration Act of 1990, which increased total overall immigration to the U.S.

102nd Congress (1991-1993)

Enacted Laws: 610
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

The 102nd Congress featured a song-filled filibuster from New York Senator Al D’Amato. Protesting the loss of New York jobs, D’Amato gave a 15 hour and 14 minute speech.

106th Congress (1999-2001)

Enacted Laws: 604
Senate Majority: Republican
House Majority: Republican

In the final years of Clinton’s presidency, Congress increased its efficiency, enacting 604 laws and passing 769 resolutions. The 106th Congress also marked the beginning of House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s four terms.

97th Congress (1981-1983)

Enacted Laws: 529
Senate Majority: Republican
House Majority: Democratic

Republicans gained control of the Senate for the first time since 1953, with Strom Thurmond becoming President Pro Tempore. The 97th Congress managed to enact 529 laws, but only passed 370 resolutions, one of the lowest numbers of any Congress.

108th Congress (2003-2005)

Enacted Laws: 504
Senate Majority: Republican
House Majority: Republican

During the 108th Congress’s term, U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq escalated. Congress also passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (2004), which reformed federal terrorism laws.

109th Congress (2005-2007)

Enacted Laws: 483
Senate Majority: Republican
House Majority: Republican

The 109th Congress only met for 242 days, the fewest since WWII. Media commentators who dubbed the 109th the worst “Do Nothing Congress” would later eat their words. The 109th was also rocked by scandals, including the resignation of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay following criminal conspiracy charges.

103rd Congress (1993-1995)

Enacted Laws: 473
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

Led by House Speaker Tom Foley, the 103rd Congress passed several major pieces of legislation, including Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (1993) and the NAFTA Implementation Act (1993). This would be the last time Democrats controlled both Houses until 2007.

110th Congress (2007-2009)

Enacted Laws: 460
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

At the start of the 110th Congress, Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House. The onset of the Great Recession in 2008 would dominate proceedings in the House and Senate.

105th Congress (1997-1999)

Enacted Laws: 404
Senate Majority: Republican
House Majority: Republican

Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Republican-controlled House formally called for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton on two charges: perjury and obstruction of justice.

111th Congress (2009-2011)

Enacted Laws: 385
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

The 111th Congress passed more resolutions (1,464) than any other Congress on this list. But it falls behind in the number of laws it actually enacted. The 111th also received voter backlash over the high unemployment that occurred during its session.

107th Congress (2001-2003)

Enacted Laws: 383
Senate Majority: Democratic to Republican to Democratic
House Majority: Republican

With the Senate evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, Vice Presidents Al Gore and later Dick Cheney served as the tie-breakers. The majority would switch back to Democrats after Republican Senator Jim Jeffords defected from the GOP.

104th Congress (1995-1997)

Enacted Laws: 337
Senate Majority: Republican
House Majority: Republican

The Republican-controlled 104th Congress marked the beginning of the bitter relationship between Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and President Bill Clinton. A budget impasse between Congress and the Clinton Administration resulted in two government shutdowns.

113th Congress (2013-2015)

Enacted Laws: 296
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Republican

The 113th Congress had the lowest approval ratings of any Congress, with disapproval bottoming out during the 2013 government shutdown. The 113th also featured two of the longest filibusters in U.S. history, one from Senator Rand Paul and one from Senator Ted Cruz.

112th Congress (2011-2013)

Enacted Laws: 284
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Republican

The 112th narrowly edges by as the least productive Congress of the last four decades. As one of the most politically polarized Congresses in U.S. history, the 112th only enacted 284 laws and nearly shut down the government after initially failing to pass a 2011 federal budget.

Compare Members of Congress on InsideGov


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