Least productive Congress? Not this one, barely

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WASHINGTON (AP) — It turns out that this Congress did not produce the fewest laws since the days of President Harry Truman. But it was pretty darn close.

Thanks to a late flurry of bill signings by President Barack Obama, the perpetually gridlocked Congress that just adjourned has had 296 bills enacted into law during its two years of work, according to congressional records.

That includes 51 that the White House says Obama signed on Thursday, and 10 more on Friday.

The 296 laws barely exceed the 283 enacted by the previous Congress, which began its two-year session in January 2011.

Both totals are the lowest in congressional records that date back to the 1940s.

They also pale compared to what Truman called the "do-nothing Congress" of 1947 and 1948, which had more than 900 measures enacted.

The recent lack of productivity can be explained in part by divided government: Republicans have controlled the House and Democrats have run the Senate, and the two chambers have ignored many of each other's priorities.

As usual, the bills approved as Congress adjourned include a mix of important and — well, less important measures.

Obama has signed hard-fought bills financing government agencies through next September and renewing a batch of expiring tax breaks for corporations and individuals.

He also signed legislation naming a post office in Prescott, Arizona, after the late GOP presidential candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Ariz.; naming a stretch of Interstate 35 in Minnesota after the late Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn.; and raising the cost of federal duck stamps sold to hunters and others from $15 to $25.

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