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Ms. Nickels, though, also cautioned that The Times’ numbers may not tell the whole story.

She said massive legislation, such as President Obama’s health care initiative that was passed in the 111th Congress, counts as only one bill but has far-reaching consequences that isn’t captured in measures of floor activity.

Likewise, spending bills often get rolled into one giant piece of legislation at the end of a year.

“There’s still a lot getting done. It’s just getting done with less examination,” she said.

The Times’ Futility Index looks at six measures of legislative activity for each chamber: time spent in session, number of pages added to the Congressional Record, conference reports between the House and Senate, floor votes, the total number of bills that cleared each chamber, and the number of laws enacted that began in each chamber.

The data, tallied from clerk’s office numbers printed in the Congressional Record, stretches back for 33 congresses.

In the past Congress, the Senate spent 2,031 hours and 56 minutes in session, which ranked 24th best. It amassed 17,461 pages in the Congressional Record, which was 29th out of 33. It cleared a total of 350 bills and had 66 of its own Senate bills signed into law — both the worst on record. It also held 486 floor votes, which ranked 25th.

The House, meanwhile, spent 1,718 hours and 4 minutes in session, which ranked 14th best. It amassed 17,588 pages in the Congressional Record, which was 24th out of 33. It had a record-low number of bills enacted into law, at 162, and had the fewest ever clear the chamber, at 567. But it held the third most floor votes, at 1,602.

Together, the House and Senate reached 10 conference reports, which was also worst on record.

The deep-rooted gridlock has spawned a lively debate among academics. Two longtime congressional scholars, Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, laid blame for the calcification squarely at the feet of Republicans.

“The Republican Party has become the home of ideologically extreme insurgents who shun conventionally understood facts, evidence and science, and scorn the very idea of working out compromises with a legitimate political opposition,” they wrote in Foreign Policy in November, which was one of a number of such critiques they levied.

Some held out hope for a better future.

Nadeam Elshami, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, pointed to the California Democrat’s comments in opening the 113th Congress when she called for striving to find common ground.

“We look forward to a 113th Congress where Republicans will work with Democrats to find bipartisan solutions to address our national priorities,” Mr. Elshami said.

But Mr. LaTourette, the former congressman who now leads the Main Street Partnership, a group of moderate Republicans, said the close call House Speaker John A. Boehner had in the speakership election last week suggests the appetite for fights has not diminished.