Lawmakers headed home for a five-week break with a lengthy list of uncompleted work and little to show for the past year and a half except an eye-popping amount of dissatisfaction.
Nearly 80 percent of Americans are unhappy with them.
Partisanship and election-year politics have left a drought-stricken nation wondering if new help will ever come and the U.S. Postal Service uncertain about its solvency.
Some $110 billion in automatic, across-the-board cuts are due to hit military and domestic programs on Jan. 2, yet no bipartisan solution is in sight or even under discussion by those who really matter.
The standoff is what happens when a bitterly divided government mixes with election-year politics to throw sand in the gears of official Washington.