More from Scott Adler and John Wilkerson:
Reauthorizations and appropriations also represented the bulk of successful lawmaking during the first 20 months of the 112th Congress. Although there is nothing truly compulsory about an expiring law or appropriations, such internally imposed deadlines do appear to foster cooperation even among lawmakers who have significant difficulty cooperating under other circumstances.
Furthermore…the highly partisan 112th Congress is not just passing brief extensions of expiring programs and appropriations; it is also passing substantively important updates (for example the Defense and FAA reauthorizations). Further, such reauthorization efforts often serve as the pretext for policy changes that go well beyond the stated purpose of the legislation. For example, Title I of the 102 page Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96) extended the payroll tax reduction (less than one page), while seven other Titles reformed unemployment compensation law, Medicare payment rates, and authorized spectrum auctions, among other things.
Your 112th Congress: more productive than they’re getting credit for?