The widely criticized 112th Congress is officially history. The members of the 113th Congress converged on Capitol Hill to take office on Thursday. They'll inherit looming fights over raising the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, and deep spending cuts postponed for two months under the last-minute deal to avoid the worst economic damage from the fiscal cliff. The new Congress, like the outgoing one, will be bitterly divided, with a Democratic Senate majority that was fortified in the November elections, and Republican House majority facing an internal rebellion from tax-averse conservatives fuming over the income-tax hike on the wealthy included in the fiscal-cliff deal. Still, judging by the stinging early report cards for the 112th, the 113th Congress has a good chance of putting together a better record of achievement than its predecessor. Here, a sampling of the insulting terms being used to badmouth the 112th Congress as it heads out the door:
1. "The 112th Congress is likely to go down in history as the most dysfunctional ever. Failure to pass a farm bill. Failure to act on judicial appointments. Failure to approve disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy victims. The list goes on and on." (The editorial board of The Sacramento Bee)
2. "The 112th Congress came in with a bang, but it is crawling out with the soft whimper of failure. For two years, President 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." (Jonathan Allen at Politico)
3. "The 112th Congress worked hard on just one thing: competing to be known as the most worthless, incompetent, do-nothing gathering of lawmakers in the nation's history. These political underachievers... manufactured an artificial crisis while failing to provide timely aid to people suffering from the devastation of a crisis that is all too real. The manufactured crisis was the 'fiscal cliff.'" (David Horsey at The Los Angeles Times)
4. "On sheer productivity grounds, this Congress got remarkably little done, passing about 220 bills (many of them minor or ceremonial)... Immigration reform? No. Climate change? Nah. Aid for Hurricane Sandy victims? Nope. And I won't even mention guns.... Other sessions have been lackluster — Harry Truman famously ran against the 'do-nothing Congress' in 1948 — but this one took incompetence to a higher level." (Howard Kurtz at The Daily Beast)
5. "After finally passing the Senate's bill to narrowly avoid the fiscal cliff late Tuesday evening, Republicans put an end to the do-nothing 112th Congress by refusing to hold a vote on Hurricane Sandy disaster relief funding." (Adam Peck at Think Progress)
6. "The clowns also agreed to suspend the previously agreed-to spending cuts contained in another bill for two months! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I realize this sounds too bad to be true. Nobody could possibly be so reckless and irresponsible and dishonest, but what I write here is all accurate. These politicians have been strung out from their addiction to wildly spending our money." (Charles Hurt at The Washington Times)
7. "What's the record of the 112th Congress? Well, it almost shut down the government and almost breached the debt ceiling. It almost went over the fiscal cliff (which it had designed in the first place)... It achieved nothing of note on housing, energy, stimulus, immigration, guns, tax reform, infrastructure, climate change or, really, anything. It's hard to identify a single significant problem that existed prior to the 112th Congress that was in any way improved by its two years of rule... It was unproductive compared with any Congress since 1948, when scholars began keeping tabs on congressional productivity." (Ezra Klein at Bloomberg)
8. "The 112th Congress is set to go down in American history as the most unproductive session since the 1940s. According to a Huffington Post review of all the bills that hit President Barack Obama's desk this session, Obama has signed 219 bills passed by the 112th Congress into law... In comparison, the last Congress passed 383 bills, while the one before it passed 460." (Amanda Terkel at The Huffington Post)
9. "[It was] the least effective and most disliked legislative body in years. Congress had a year to delay the impact of the fiscal cliff — a crisis that this Congress itself initiated after the failure of the debt ceiling negotiation and the subsequent failure of the congressional super-committee — and still failed to do so in time." (Walter Hickey at Business Insider)
10. "The 112th Congress was the least productive in recorded history... The free ride on the government-handout trail needs to start with the do-nothing Congress. If they want to get a paycheck, they need to do something to earn it." (Itobin53 at Allvoices)
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why is the Pentagon stuffing caves in Norway full of tanks?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- Syrian women know how to defeat ISIS
- 5 baffling foreign-language versions of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song
- The U.S. government is actually trouncing Ebola. When will it get credit?
- The one thing the New Atheists get right about religion
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Why America needs more billionaires
Subscribe to the Week