An Unproductive Congress So Far – Except on Fundraising

It’s not hard to see what’s a higher priority.

Congress may be on track to break two records in 2016 – for being the least productive in recent history while mounting the most expensive campaigns ever.

So far, the 114th Congress has passed just 71 laws this session (14 of which designated federal buildings, highways and post offices). And given the recent turmoil in the leadership of the House, Congress is unlikely to surpass the lackluster pace of the last Congress, which passed 296 pieces of legislation.

But where members have been exceedingly productive is raising money. Although it’s still relatively early in the election cycle, House candidates have already raised more than $289 million for the upcoming 2016 election, according to Federal Election Commission data, while Senate candidates have raised $134 million.

These figures do not include outside spending, which is also likely to break records next year. Thanks to fiercely contested Senate races in states such as Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – which also happen to be presidential battleground states – total spending may well top the $6.2 billion spent in 2012 on the presidential and congressional races.

These two charts show what seems to be an inverse relationship between Congressional productivity and campaign fundraising:

Source: Congress.gov

Source: OpenSecrets

Here’s another way to look at these figures: For every law that Congress passed in 2014, House and Senate candidates raised nearly $5.6 million for themselves.

Donors might do well to wonder about the return on their investment.