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Healthy Congress Index Finds Progress on Appropriations

Washington, D.C.– Congress is functioning again — maybe.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s quarterly Healthy Congress Index shows rare progress in how Congress handled appropriations bills this year. Since 2007, Congress has never enacted all 12 appropriations bills by the start of the fiscal year on October 1, but this time it has a chance at meeting that deadline.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed all 12 regular appropriations bills by June 30 for Fiscal Year 2019, only the second time it has accomplished that since 2007. The House Appropriations Committee completed action on 10 of the 12 appropriations bills, which is above average since 2007.

“Is Congress functioning better? There are encouraging signs of rare progress with House and Senate committee action on most of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal 2019,” John Fortier, director of the democracy project at BPC, said. “But whether the October 1 deadline is met remains to be seen.”

The Index also found:

  • The Senate has considered the lowest number of amendments, just 258, since the 110th Congress
  • Filibuster attempts on legislation in the Senate are the lowest since the 110th Congress, as indicated by the low number of cloture votes: just 33 versus a recent high of 104
  • House members had no opportunity to offer amendments to 55 percent of the bills that came to the floor
  • Congress’s working days have declined since the 110th Congress

“More working days in Washington are needed for Congress to complete its work. A five-day workweek with three weeks in Washington per month would have given Congress additional time and made talk of canceling the August recess unnecessary,” Fortier said.