Kevin McCarthy's House is the least productive in modern history — and it's not just because of divided government

Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the House chamber on July 19, 2023.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the House chamber on July 19, 2023.Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • The current GOP-run House is the least productive in modern history, according to a new analysis.

  • The chamber is passing fewer bills and is set to be in session for fewer days than average.

  • It's not just due to divided government — McCarthy's House falls short of other similar periods.

Kevin McCarthy is leading the least productive House in modern history, according to an analysis of legislative data shared exclusively with Insider.

And it's not simply because the US is in a period of divided government.

"The only thing that has changed is that MAGA Republicans now run the House of Representatives," Navin Nayak, the president of the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund, told Insider on Tuesday. "They will not make any attempt to actually find common ground, or find common-sense solutions to problems."

According to CAP Action's analysis, just 14 pieces of legislation — two of which were resolutions — have been signed into law by President Joe Biden since McCarthy became speaker of the House.

While periods of divided government typically do lead to increased gridlock on Capitol Hill, that's not a sufficient explanation for the lack of productivity.

According to the analysis, the average number of bills to pass the House during periods of divided government by September 19 is 299. McCarthy's House, by contrast, had passed just 224 by that point.

The overall average, across both unified and divided government, is 319 by September 19, according to the analysis.

The last time the House passed such a low number of bills was in the first 9 months of 2013, when Republicans continued to hold the House after President Barack Obama's re-election in 2012. That year, the chamber had passed just 205 bills by this point.

Furthermore, the chamber is on track to be in session for just 117 days this year, well below the average of 151 days in session per Congress from 2001 to 2022.

Spokespeople for McCarthy did not respond to Insider's request for comment.

CAP Action, a liberal group aligned with the Democratic Party, argues that the decline in productivity is attributable to the specific dynamics at play in the 118th Congress, where McCarthy frequently has to negotiate with hard-right members of his caucus.

"The extremists in the house run the show," said Nayak. "And that is really the reason why you have this unbelievably unproductive Congress."

Just last week, the House failed to even pass a procedural motion to begin debate on a defense bill, owing to objections from a small group of hard-right lawmakers over how the chamber had handled government spending bills more broadly. That resulted in lawmakers being sent home early.

The government is set to run out of funding over the weekend, and it is now unclear whether McCarthy can muster the votes to pass a bill to keep the government open for the next few weeks without drawing the ire of the hard right again, including a potential vote to remove him.

"There is a flashing red sign hanging over the House of Representatives today," said Nayak. "And that is: who's running the place?"

The group also contrasts McCarthy's speakership with that of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who managed to pass both party-line priorities and bipartisan legislation — including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Respect for Marriage Act — with a similar-sized majority.

Read the original article on Business Insider