Phyllis Holloway of Independence, Mo., was horrified that the House of Representatives went home for the holidays last month, letting unemployment benefits expire for 1.3 million jobless workers.
She called her congressman to express her outrage, even though he represents 413,309 constituents on the North Coast of California, half a continent away from her home near the Missouri-Kansas border.
Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman of San Rafael said, in essence: "Me, too, mom."
Reflecting on his freshman year in the House of Representatives, Huffman said he, like his mother, was offended by House Speaker John Boehner's comment -#8212; "we've done our work" -#8212; at the close of the least productive year in recent congressional history.
"We're all angry," Huffman said during a lengthy interview in his downtown San Rafael office.
Americans' approval rating of Congress plunged in November to 9 percent, the lowest ever in the Gallup poll's 39-year history of asking the question.
The first term of the 113th Congress ended a month later with the enactment of 71 bills, the lowest total in decades, leaving the carpeted chambers on Capitol Hill littered with major actions left undone, including an overhaul of immigration laws, a farm/food stamps bill, gun violence prevention and unemployment insurance.
Congress' most memorable handiwork in 2013 was likely the 16-day government shutdown that cost the economy $24 billion, according to the financial ratings agency Standard - Poor's.
Huffman, like many pundits, blamed obstructionist Republicans for the lack of action on Capitol Hill, especially in the GOP-controlled House, where Boehner largely caved in to pressure from the arch-conservative tea party faction.
"The (Democratic) minority in the House is virtually powerless," said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist.
McCuan said he would give the House a grade of D-minus for 2013, upgraded from an F only because of the bi-partisan budget compromise approved in early December on a 332-94 vote, with more than 160 Democrats in favor and more than 60 Republicans opposed.
Huffman, 49, won former Rep. Lynn Woolsey's seat in 2012, after being termed out of the state Assembly, where he had more than 60 bills approved in six years.
He was under no illusions of his stature as a freshman member of the House's minority party, but Huffman said he was surprised by the Republicans' intransigence.
There was, he said, "a complete lack of conciliation in the wake of the 2012 election," in which President Barack Obama won by 5 million votes and Democrats gained seats in both houses of Congress.
The most conservative Republicans continued "rooting for the government to fail," Huffman said, and the House voted nine more times last year to repeal or dismantle Obama's Affordable Care Act, bringing the total to more than 40 purely symbolic votes.
Of the 71 bills enacted by Congress last year, at least 48 were noncontroversial measures approved in the House by voice vote, unanimous consent or under a suspension of rules to facilitate speedy action.
Huffman's own legislative scorecard was meager. Only three of the 322 measures he co-sponsored became law, including a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Two of the three bills he introduced were referred to committee, and his lone success -#8212; a measure adding 1,255 acres of Mendocino County coastline to the California Coastal National Monument -#8212; passed the House in July, but a companion measure stalled in the Senate.