Martin Falbisoner

Productivity reigns as king in America, where workplaces aim to squeeze as much efficient work out of their employees as possible. There’s even an entire category in the Apple Store dedicated to apps built to help you be more productive.

Americans have the same level of expectation when it comes to their politicians. Candidates have to be people you want to have a beer with, sure, but then they need to hustle at work. And if they aren’t accomplishing as much as the public thinks they should be, voters have no problem saddling the whole group with abysmal approval ratings or kicking the lot to the curb.

InsideGov set out to learn which Congress has been the most and least productive, looking at each term since 1973, when bell bottoms were all the rage and President Richard Nixon had not yet told America: “I am not a crook.”

Using data from GovTrack, InsideGov tallied up how many bills and resolutions each Congress passed, and compared those figures to the overall number of proposed pieces of legislation. Those data points provided an overall passage score, which helped to rank the productivity of each Congress since 1973.

#21. 93rd Congress

January 1973 – December 1974
6.4% passage rate

Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate from 1973 to 1975, but Republicans ran the White House. This Congress oversaw the Watergate hearings and the impeachment hearings for President Richard Nixon. Nixon resigned from office in August 1974.

#20. 97th Congress

January 1981 – December 1982
6.8% passage rate

The Senate switched to Republican control in January 1981, the first time the GOP held a majority in either chamber since the 1950s. President Ronald Reagan, also a Republican, helped to shepherd 529 bills into law.

#19. 94th Congress

January 1975 – October 1976
7.2% passage rate

President Gerald Ford was in the White House and both chambers were controlled by the Democrats. But the 94th Congress managed to pass 729 laws, including the Government in the Sunshine Act, which aimed to increase government transparency.

#18. 95th Congress

January 1977 – October 1978
8% passage rate

Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and the White House, yet only 8 percent of the proposed bills got through: Congress passed 804 laws and 981 resolutions.

#17. 98th Congress

January 1983 – October 1984
8.2% passage rate

Congress was still divided, with the Senate controlled by the GOP and the House run by the Democrats. Of the 12,202 total bills and resolutions introduced, President Ronald Reagan signed 6 percent into law, including the law designating the third Monday in January Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

#16. 112th Congress

January 2011 – January 2013
8.2% passage rate

In the tea party wave of 2010, the House flipped to Republican control, giving the speaker’s gavel to Rep. John Boehner out of Ohio. President Barack Obama memorably called the midterm election a “shellacking” for his Democratic Party. The tension between the White House and Capitol Hill resulted in one of the least productive congressional terms ever — only 284 bills became law, the lowest count since 1973.

#15. 99th Congress

January 1985 – October 1986
8.8% passage rate

President Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term in 1985; the Senate was still controlled by the GOP and the House by Democrats. Congress put forward 11,602 bills and resolutions in the term, so far the lowest number. As a point of comparison, during the 93rd Congress, members put forward 26,222 bill and resolutions.

#14. 113th Congress

January 2013 – January 2015
9% passage rate

The 113th Congress remained split, with Democrats controlling the Senate under Majority Leader Harry Reid out of Nevada and Republicans holding onto the House under Speaker John Boehner out of Ohio. Congress managed to enact 296 laws, the second lowest count since 1973. Americans gave Capitol Hill a firm thumbs-down, doling out a 15 percent approval rating, according to Gallup.

#13. 100th Congress

January 1987 – October 1988
9.8% passage rate

During the final two years of President Ronald Reagan’s administration, the House and Senate were both under Democratic control. Congress got 7 percent of proposed legislation passed into law, including the Department of Veterans Affairs Act, which upgraded the department to a Cabinet-level branch.

#12. 107th Congress

January 2001 – November 2002
9.9% passage rate

During the first years of President George W. Bush’s term, the nation was rocked by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. Congress still passed 383 bills, including the No Child Left Behind Act, which instituted test assessment as a basis for education reform.

#11. 102nd Congress

January 1991 – October 1992
10% passage rate

The early ’90s continued to see fairly efficient congressional work — Democrats in the House and Senate worked with Republican President George H. W. Bush to pass 610 laws, or 5 percent of the proposed legislation. One such bill was the Former Soviet Union Demilitarization Act of 1992, which worked on disarming the former Soviet Union after the Cold War.

#10. 103rd Congress

January 1993 – December 1994
10% passage rate

Congress maintained the same passage rate as the previous term, but the 103rd Congress did it with fewer proposed pieces of proposed legislation — 9,822. In fact, that’s one of the three lowest counts of proposed legislation since the early 1970s.

The budget for the Defense Department, passed in 1994 under the 103rd Congress, contained language prohibiting gays from openly serving in the military, known as the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. President Bill Clinton authorized the ban, but it was repealed in 2010.

#9. 101st Congress

January 1989 – October 1990
10.7% passage rate

Democrats maintained their majorities in the House and Senate during the first two years of President George H. W. Bush’s term. This was an efficient Congress, with members working together to pass 665 laws of the 11,787 proposed pieces of legislation.

#8. 105th Congress

January 1997 – December 1998
11.2% passage rate

Washington, D.C., continued the red-blue divide during the 105th congressional term: President Bill Clinton was elected to his second term in the White House and the House and Senate were still under Republican control. Clinton signed the Taxpayer Relief Act in 1997, which decreased capital gains tax rates and established the child tax credit. A little more than a year later, the House voted to impeach Clinton for perjury and obstruction of justice.

#7. 96th Congress

January 1979 – December 1980
11.3% passage rate

As the ’70s wrapped up, Congress oversaw a slight uptick in productivity. President Jimmy Carter presided over Democratic control in both chambers, leading to 736 bills becoming law. But in November 1980, Americans came out for the GOP, voting in a Republican majority in the Senate and electing President Ronald Reagan.

#6. 109th Congress

January 2005 – December 2006
11.6% passage rate

Of the legislation it proposed, Congress passed 483 laws, or 4 percent of the total. One such law was the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, which established disclosure guidelines for federal bodies and

#5. 104th Congress

January 1995 – October 1996
11.7% passage rate

In the middle of President Bill Clinton’s first term, Congress flipped control from the Democrats to the GOP. During the midterm election, Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich, the soon-to-be speaker of the House, outlined the policy objectives for a Republican-run House in his Contract with America.

The party divide between Congress and the White House meant only 337 bills became law; the only reason the overall passage rate is so high is that Congress proposed only 7,991 pieces of legislation, the lowest count since GovTrack started collecting this data. Congress and the White House’s inability to reach an agreement on the budget resulted in two government shutdowns: one in November 1995 and the second from December 1995 to January 1996.

#4. 106th Congress

January 1999 – December 2000
12.7% passage rate

The start of the 106th Congress saw the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton in front of the Senate. After closed-door deliberations and votes, Clinton was acquitted in February 1999. Despite those beginnings, the Republican-led Congress got 604 bills signed into law.

#3. 108th Congress

January 2003 – December 2004
12.8% passage rate

Republicans continued to rule Washington, D.C.: President George W. Bush was re-elected and both the Senate and House increased their majorities in 2004. Congress kicked it up a notch, passing 12.8 percent of proposed legislation, including 504 laws and 865 resolutions, including the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

#2. 110th Congress

January 2007 – January 2009
13.5% passage rate

When the House flipped control to the Democratic Party in 2006, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi became the first woman speaker of the House. In June 2008, one of the term’s 1,435 resolutions passed allowed Congress to use the Capitol rotunda to celebrate the 60th anniversary of racial integration of the military.

#1. 111th Congress

January 2009 – December 2010
13.5% passage rate

The 111th Congress is considered one of the most productive in American history, pushing through 1,849 bills and resolutions. With President Barack Obama and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, Congress repealed the ban on gays serving openly in the military, passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (referred to as Obamacare), and approved a stimulus package and Wall Street reforms after the 2008 recession.