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Local Lawmakers Agree On One Thing: 2013 Was Frustrating, Forgettable

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There's bipartisan agreement on one thing: life inside the U.S. Capitol was frustrating during 2013.
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There's bipartisan agreement on one thing: life inside the U.S. Capitol was frustrating during 2013.

It wasn't a pretty year in Washington, and lawmakers in the region are as upset about it as voters.

Ask any lawmaker and they understand why Congress hit new lows in public approval during 2013. Here's how Northern Virginia Democrat Jim Moran rates this Congress: "I'd give us, probably an F."

He's not alone in thinking that — and the belief seems to be one of the few thing that crosses party lines. "It's been a challenging year for Congress, it s been a challenging year for the American people," admits Virginia Republican Scott Rigell.

Republicans spent the year honing in on so called Obamacare. The GOP may have overplayed its hand, though. House Republicans demanded a one-year delay to the health law, but Democrats refused, prompting a 16-day-long shutdown. Voters blame Republicans for the shutdown. Even so, Virginia Republican Morgan Griffith says he doesn't regret the fight.

"A lot of people felt that we had to make the last ditch effort to try to stop it, slow it down, do whatever we could. That might not have been the tactic I would have chosen, but it was a fight worth making," he says.

While immigration reform passed the Senate with a broad bipartisan coalition, it remains untouched in the Republican-controlled House. A bipartisan bill to curb discrimination against the LGBT community was also left hanging out there. This Congress is now being labeled the least productive in history, and Democrats are pointing their fingers across the aisle.

"They've passed about 60 bills and none of them have been of consequence and virtually nothing has gotten done," says Moran.

Griffith sees it differently, though. "Well, its always frustrating when you pass a lot of good bills, and they go over to the Senate never to see the light of day," he says.

For Rigell, sometimes no bill is better than a bad bill. "It would certainly be incomplete in my view to just look at the sheer quantity. Now I think that's one indicator, but I think one that trumps that would be the quality of the legislation that was advanced," he says.

If there was any cherry on top for the year, many lawmakers are pointing to the bipartisan budget agreement that passed both chambers with broad support. It unwinds sequestration's budget cuts for the next two years. That made Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen breathe a sigh of relief.

"The budget agreement itself is a positive step forward," he says.

Lawmakers have a new legislative year waiting for them when they get back to Washington in January. It's an election year, so if you thought 2013 was too politicized, you may want to buckle up.

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