A lesson you should only need to learn once in writing online is to only say that something will absolutely not happen if there is actually no chance it will happen. When I wrote on Monday that there was "zero chance" that the Congress which just ended would not be the least productive Congress in history, I broke that rule. There was a greater-than-zero percent chance that the 113th would not be the least productive because, it appears, it won't be. Barely! And with some caveats!
When one is wrong on the internet, there are two typical responses. The first is to insist that you were actually right and spend the rest of your life picking out anecdotal evidence that bolsters that case, however flimsy. (Editor's note: This is my preferred response.) The other is to say, ha ha, oh well and explain. I chose the latter.
Here, using up-to-the-minute data and analysis from GovTrack, is how the already-missed 113th Congress did in terms of productivity. [Editor: Please insert here our boilerplate explanation of how "productivity" here means bills passed and we know some people don't want bills passed and et cetera.] We were so amazed at the 113th's last minute surge that we added a little exclamation point.
So, you know: The 113th was barely not the least productive Congress in recent history. Well done, all!
Now, we will point out that President Obama was still signing some of these bills on Thursday. If they aren't signed yet, they really shouldn't count, and GovTrack still still shows a few dozen waiting to be moved into that category. We will also point out that more than 30 of the 297 bills for which the 113th will get credit were naming post offices.
If we rework the graph to point out post office naming and the bills not yet marked as signed, we get this, which looks a bit different.
Congress has been on a post-office-naming tear recently, renaming more than 500 of them since 1997. (There were over 25,000 total across the country in 2012.) In fact, the 113th Congress actually named fewer post offices as a percentage of all bills it passed than the 112th -- and far fewer than the 110th. (In that Congress, nearly one-in-four-bills passed was to rename a post office.)
The 113th did also rename a Forest Service station, but we'll let that slide.
So even if you look at only non-post-office-renaming bills, the 113th is not at the very bottom of the list. That honor still goes to the Fightin' 112h, still your all-time leader in not getting things done.
In a way it's fitting, though. As terrible as the 113th Congress was, it was even bad at being the worst.
At this point, a prediction: No Congress will ever be as bad as the 112th, no matter what. And when I make a confident prediction like that, you can trust that it will hold for days.