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Congress Passes Historic Spending Bills in a Divided Year

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A look at the recent laws passed by Congress in 2023.

description: a group of diverse lawmakers in suits discussing and voting on a bill in a large chamber with american flags in the background.

In a year of divided government, when House Republicans were even divided against themselves, Congress was historically unproductive. President Joe Biden has signed into law a package of spending bills passed by the Senate in time to avoid a shutdown of many key federal agencies. The 118th Congress is on track to be one of the most unproductive in modern history, with just a couple dozen laws on the books at the close. The reasons why Congress is passing fewer bills than ever are complex and multifaceted.

WASHINGTON — The House voted 286-134 on Friday to pass a sweeping $1.2 trillion government funding bill, sending it to the Senate just hours before a deadline that threatened to shut down the government. For comparison, the last 10 Congresses averaged 391 bills signed into law per term. On June 3, Congress passed the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, an agreement to raise the limit on the amount of money the U.S. government is allowed to borrow. Congress passed the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, which is expected to be signed by the president and authorizes a pay raise for military personnel.

State legislatures have considered at least 450 bills and resolutions in recent years to establish year-round daylight saving time as soon as possible. This issue has gained bipartisan support in Congress, with lawmakers from both parties working together to push for a change. Despite the overall lack of productivity in Congress, there have been some important bills passed in recent months, showing that bipartisan cooperation is still possible on certain issues.


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