Spurred to action by an ambitious new President and some accumulated old problems, the 95th Congress in its first session has pursued one of the busiest legislative agendas in recent congressional history.
Although House and Senate conferences are still weeks away from the moral equivalent of armistice on energy legislation, most work in other areas should be completed after this week's sessions when both houses will return from recess for final action on a mixed bag of bills.
A review of the congressional roster for 1977 shows that the members this year bit the bullet on some issues - Social Security financing, free food stamps, and congressional ethics, among others - that they had been talking about for years.
On the other hand, some bills that had been expected to breeze through the heavily Democratic Congress - including consumer legislation and President Carter's election law package - got nowhere.
Carter and his new administration created the impetus for this year's active session, peppering the Capitol with proposals touching everything from airbags and aliens to welfare and water projects.
The Carter initiatives came so thick and fast that it became conventional Washington wisdom this fall that the President was tyring to do too much. Finally, Carter felt compelled to make a public pledge that the flow of new proposals would be stopped.
But the new President, who had campaigned on his ability to work with the Democratic Congress, had decidedly mixed succedd in winning support for his multifaious projects.
Some Carter ideas that were announced with considerable ballyhoo- hospital cost control for example, and "amnesty" for certain illegal aliens - have bogged down in committees with little hope that they'll emerge.
The President's expansive energy program, which involved 103 separate bills that were considered by eight different committees, has undergone sharp alterations on its journey through Congress. Final action is not expected until late December, and it is not clear how close the congressional vesion will be to the presidential proposals.
In other areas, Carter simply lost. He backed the common site picketing bill and the cargo prefernece lrgislation, both of which were rejected by mutinous House Democrats. His election law package - including election day voter registration and public financing of congressional campaigns - faltered under stiff criticism on the Hill. His efforts to strengthen the Renegotiation Board and create a federal consumer agency never gained sufficient support.
On the positive side of the ledger. Carter won easy approval for his new Cabiner-level Energy Department. He was largely successful in a campaign against pork-barrel water projects, convincing for 13 projects that would normally have won unquestioning approval on the Hill.
In addition to its lengthy legislative laudry list, Congress this year pursued three major investigations.
The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee devoted much of the summer to a probe of the business affairs of FBert Lance. Lance resigned as director of the Office of Management and Budget at the close of the committee's hearings on his case.
Four committees investigated South Korea's convert operations in the United States. These investigations dealt mainly with the effort, allegedly directed by top officials in the Seoul goernment, to gain influential friends in Washington through bribery.
A separate inquiry was aimed at unanswered questions stemming from the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Here is a categorial review of Congress' major activities during the year.
Congressional operations - Prompted largely by the 1976 Wayne Hays scandal, both houses passed new codes of ethics that placed limits on a member's outside earnings and required more detailed financila statements from members and staff aides.
Although unpopular among members, the reforms were adopted to enhance publuc accpetance of the $12.900 pay raise members received in February. By October, with the pay raise ancient history, the House rejected a stiffer package of internal rules.
The Senate approved a significant reorganization of its committee structure.
Executive branch - Congress granted Carter authority, similar to that granted other Presidents, to organize the executive branch. The members also approved Carter's plan for a single Energy Department incorporating several formerly scattered agencies.
Energy - At the height of the coldest winter in the nations's history, Congress gave president Carter power to order transfers of natural gas to regions facing shortages.
But Congress bucked the President's request that it stop funding of a nuclear breeder reactor at Clinch River, Tenn. The President vetoed legislation authorizing the funds but Congress seems likely to appropriate the money anyway.
The President's major energy package passed the House relatively intact but was mangled in the Senate. Conferees have weeks of work remaining before reaching a compromise. . .
Labor - Two of organized labor's pet bills - common site picketing, liberalizing strikers' tactics in the construction industry, and cargo preference, requiring the use of American tankers - were killed.
A new minimum wage bill, raising the hourly level gradually to $3.35 over four years, was passed.
Both houses passed legislation raising the lowest mandatory retirement age to 70.but conferees have not agreed on exemptions.
Federal benefits - After five years of talking about it. Congress voted to elliminate the requirement that everyone pay some price for food stamps.
Both houses agreed to stiff new taxes to shore up the Social Security system. Both rejected Carter's plan to fund the system with general revenues. Conferees will have to decide how much of the new burden will be borne by employers and how much bu workers.
Committeesstarted work, but sid not get far, on Carter's $30.7 billion welfare overhaul plan.
After the Supreme Court ruled the action permissible, both houses limited the use of federal funds for abortions. Conferees are still debating the exact terms of the limitation.
Consumer - Despite backing from the White House, sponsors of legislation to create a federal consumer agency never garnered enough support to bring the idea to a vote.
A banking regulation bill seemed to be on its way to passage after the Lance affair, but was later scuttled by intensive bank industry lobbying.
Both houses approved legislation restricting the methods that debt collection firms can employ against consumers with overdue bills.
Transportation - Congress failed to override an executive order requiring installation of airbags in passenger cars starting in 1982.
Both houses agreed to reverse 200 years of federal transit policy by requiring barge lines to pay for their use of inland waterways. The practice level of payment is yet to be resolved.
Environment - A clean air bill extended the time period for new automobiles to reduce emissions.
Congress approved limits on strip-mining operations and Carter signed the bill, which President Ford had twice vetoed.
The 1972 Water Pollution Control Act was extended in legislation that excompassed numerous compromises between environmentalists and industry.
Reacting to Carter's sharp criticism of pork-barrel projects. Congress eliminated or cut funding for 13 water development projects.
Defense Foreign Affairs - Congress approved a $110 billion defense appropriation, $4 billion less than Carter requested. Carter apparently prevailed in an effort to stop funding for the B-1 bomber, although the plane's backers are still trying to save some funds.
The Senate, after long debate approved Carter's nomination of Paul Warnke to be chief U.S. strategic arms limitation talks (SALT) negotiator.
Both houses voted to life the Byrd Amendment, which had permitted the U.S. to buy chrome from Rhodesta despite the United Nations embargo against that country.
The Senate held hearings on the President's Panama Canal treaties, but put off a vote until next year.