When it comes to our view of Congress, we are the boy who cried "worthless." Congress is suffering record-low approval ratings, but it's not like our elected leaders were ever all that popular. Another valley was in 1992, when just 18 percent of Americans approved of Congress despite it having been a little legislation factory, as you can see in NPR's chart at left. Congress's approval rating was 19 percent in 1979 and in 2008, according to Gallup, slower years but far more productive than in 2011. Passing more stuff doesn't make Congress more popular. So you can see why low approval ratings might not give Congress much of an added push to lift itself out of record-low productivity. Nevertheless, we'd like to offer a visual representation of this week's failure to do much beyond symbolic measures.
The Paycheck Fairness Act. On Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that included several measures to ensure women get paid the same as men if they have the same job. It would have made filing gender discrimination lawsuits easier and would have prevented employers from barring employees from finding out their coworkers' salaries. The Associated Press called it a "a choreographed showdown." (Photo via Kheel Center, Cornell University via Flickr.)
The highway bill. A transportation packaged has been tied up for months, and The Hill's Keith Laing reported Tuesday that Sens. Barbara Boxer and James Inhofe were working to make a little progress. But, alas, Laing writes, "The proposal did not include a House provision mandating that the Obama administration approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, however, and GOP leaders on the House Transportation Committee gave it an initially cool reception." (Photo via -Snugg- via Flickr.)
Sen. Claire McCaskill's mom. "For the last two years, [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell has been trying to figure out what amendments he can put on the floor to make my life miserable," McCaskill said on MSNBC Tuesday, as The Hill noted. "There are so many 'gotcha' votes — all they have done for the past two years is been obstructionist and try to figure out some way to put something on the floor that would get me to vote against my own mother." (Photo via aroid via Flickr.)
Naming a Minnesota post office. The House sent to the president's desk a bill "To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 170 Evergreen Square SW in Pine City, Minnesota, as the 'Master Sergeant Daniel L. Fedder Post Office'."
Naming a Pennsylvania post office. The House sent to the president's desk a bill "To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 11 Dock Street in Pittston, Pennsylvania, as the 'Trooper Joshua D. Miller Post Office Building'."
Naming a New York post office. The House sent to the president's desk a bill "To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1449 West Avenue in Bronx, New York, as the "Private Isaac T. Cortes Post Office'."