Forget about landmark legislation or even a budget deal. And all those votes on the floor? Most will be meant to influence the November elections.

Welcome to the second session of the 112th Congress, when a divided and unpopular group seems poised to ignore the basic aspects of governing and turn the House and Senate chambers into full-time campaign stumps.

The bar is so low that “even a hard-charging fast-digging mole” couldn’t find it, as Sen. Joe Manchin puts it.

“The gridlock we’ve seen is because of the election cycle, so just think of the election year,” the West Virginia Democrat said grimly. “If you think this is bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

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