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Counting the Ways that Congress Does – and Does Not – Work

By Beverly G. Hudnut

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

BPC recently released an updated Healthy Congress Index, a cumulative index of data covering the current Congress and six previous congresses that offers insight into how Congress may—or may not—function in the coming years. BPC initiated the index to track key CPR recommendations released in June 2014 to improve the legislative process.

First launched in 2015, the index tracks how often Congress is working in Washington, whether committees are actively reporting legislation, and whether the process for debating and amending bills on the floor is fair and open. This year, two new metrics were added that track whether committees are reviewing existing federal programs and the status of the budget and appropriations process.

Six months into the current Congress, compared with recent years, some of the findings include:

  • The Senate is working more days in Washington with 85 days so far. The House is on par with recent years at just 75. With CPR’s recommendation, each chamber should be at around 90 days at this point.
  • Committees are reporting a healthy number of bills to the floor, higher than many previous congresses.
  • The number of amendments is down in the Senate—only 18 so far—but so are attempts to filibuster bills, with just two.
  • The House has mostly blocked members from offering amendments on the floor. Fifty-seven percent of the bills before the House allowed no amendments.
  • Both the president and Congress missed budget deadlines for the upcoming fiscal year. The president submitted his budget 107 days after the statutory deadline, and Congress did not pass its budget by the April 15 deadline (and still has not).
  • The number of existing federal programs Congress has not reviewed and reauthorized has grown in recent years.

For the latest Healthy Congress Index update, please click here.


Also published on Medium.

KEYWORDS: HEALTHY CONGRESS INDEX, 115TH CONGRESS