WASHINGTON, D.C. (Mynews4.com, KRNV & CNN) - In the history books, 2013 could be remembered as the year of the "do-nothing" Congress. Lawmakers say they've heard the complaints from constituents, and some say they are actively trying to make things better.
Freshmen Angus King (I-Maine) and Joe Donnolly (D-Indiana) just wrapped up their first year in the Senate. Their take on the institution is telling. "It's still pretty bad that we haven't been able to get more done," King said. Donnolly added, "The more cooperation we can get, the better off we'll be."
A new CNN/ORC poll shows 67%, two-thirds of the country, call this the worst Congress of their lifetime. Nearly three-quarters of those people, 74%, have lived a long life: they are 50 and older. 73% say Congress has done nothing to address the country's problems.
Donnolly says Congress' low approval rating is not surprising. "What they see every day on television is deadlock and fights and screaming. What you don't see every day is large groups of both Democrats and Republicans coming together, saying 'how can we work through this process?'"
One thing that is bipartisan: the blame. The public does not trust either party. 52% say policies of Democratic Congressional leaders will move the country in the wrong direction. Republican leaders fare slightly worse, 54% say the GOP will move the country in the wrong direction.
Moderate Republican Susan Collins (Maine) spent the year organizing bipartisan discussion to solve big problems. She wants Americans to have hope for 2014. "I hope that the American people will realize that there are some of us who are trying to build bridges and bring people together and solve problems."
Congress did leave for the year on a higher note than when it started, by passing a bipartisan budget through the House and the Senate. Several Senators tell me they had people coming up to them all over their states thanking them for being reasonable. One told me at first, he thought it was a nice compliment. Then he realized, that is a pretty low bar.