WASHINGTON (AP):The most partisan, least productive Congress in memory has skipped out of Washington for the campaign trail.
The Senate shuttered the Capitol soon after sending President Barak Obama stopgap spending legislation that will make sure the government won't shut down on October 1.
The legislation passed early yesterday morning by a 62-30 vote.
Left behind for a post-election session is a pile of unfinished business on the budget and taxes, farm policy and legislation to save the Postal Service from insolvency.
The Republican-controlled House had beat its retreat last Friday morning after taking one last, futile slap at Obama - passing a bill titled 'Stop the War on Coal Act'.
It's the earliest pre-election exit by Congress from Washington since 1960, though lawmakers will return in November after the election to deal with its stack of unfinished work.
The approval rating for the current Congress in a Gallup poll earlier this month sank to just 13 per cent, the lowest ever for an election year.
The Republican-controlled House and Democratic Senate managed to come together with Obama to enact just 173 new laws.
OBAMA RISES IN POLLS
More are coming after the election, but the current tally is roughly half the output of a typical Congress.
Even so, political pundits say Republicans are strong favourites to keep the House while Democratic chances of keeping the Senate are on the upswing with Obama's rise in the polls.
The exit from Washington leaves the bulk of Congress' agenda for a post-election session in which it's hoped lawmakers will be liberated from the election-year paralysis that has ground Capitol Hill to a near halt.
Topping the lame-duck agenda was dealing with the so-called fiscal cliff, which combines the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts on December 31 and more than US$100 billion in indiscriminate, across-the-board spending cuts set to strike at the same time as punishment for the failure of last year's deficit "supercommittee" to strike a deal.