The year of the government shutdown was also the year that Republicans and Democrats voted among themselves like never before.
House Republicans in 2013 voted with their caucus an average of 92 percent of the time, breaking the previous record of 91 percent in 2011, according to a new study from CQ Roll Call. The House GOP voted unanimously on party-unity votes—those that divided parties—35 percent of the time, also inching past the previous record of 34 percent in 2010.
A look at the Senate offers a similar picture, but in reverse; Senate Democrats broke their previous record on party unity in 2013 when lawmakers voted an average of 94 percent with their caucus. Unanimous voting also reached a new high: the Democratic caucus voted unanimously 52 percent on party-unity votes, which shatters the record for either party in either chamber (the last high was 46 percent in 2011).
The rankings, which come from CQ Roll Call's Vote Studies which tracks votes since 1956, underscore why the 113th Congress was one of the least productive in history, with less than 60 bills actually becoming law. Getting legislation through both chambers and past the president's desk is a feat when nearly everyone in Congress almost always votes with their own party and not the other. Welcome to Congress, where the middle ground is full of tumbleweeds, rather than people casting votes.