Amid record-low productivity on Capitol Hill this year, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Sunday that Congress should be judged on how many laws it repeals, rather than how many new laws lawmakers enact.
"We should not be judged on how many new laws we create," the nation's top elected Republican said on CBS. "We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal."
Congress has only passed 15 bills that have become law this year, putting it on pace to be even less productive than the preceding Congress, from 2011-2013, when 23 laws were enacted. Congress continues to suffer from record-low approval ratings and partisan gridlock that stalls most legislation (though there were some signs of a thaw this week).
The White House expressed its incredulity at the claim.
"Did Speaker Boehner really say that the Congress should be judged on the number of laws they repeal not the number they pass?" asked senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Twitter.
Democrats in particular have been critical of House Republicans' 30-some attempts to repeal all or parts of President Barack Obama's health care reform law. Their most recent attempt came this week, when Republicans passed a law codifying the one-year delay in the law's employer mandate, even in the face of a veto threat from the White House.
For his part, Boehner attributed the rancor on Capitol Hill to the effects of divided government.
"Our job is to find the common ground. Yes, the country's divided, but my goodness, there's common ground," he said. "It's a little harder to find today than it was 10 years ago."
First published July 21 2013, 8:47 AM