Congress is too often gridlocked and dysfunctional, as its critics so frequently describe it. And as such, it deserves the historic lows in public approval cited in the latest Gallup poll.
But before Americans give up on democracy, they should take a second look at what the national legislature did before leaving for August recess.
Just two weeks after denouncing Congress for "posturing and opinionating but not actually doing any work that focuses on the people who sent them there," President Obama on Thursday signed into law an important bipartisan bill reforming the Veterans Administration with new resources and authority.
The legislation was properly hailed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for providing the agency power to fire poorly performing employees and giving veterans more flexible choices in seeking health care.
And the new VA bill was far from being a isolated event. Before exiting, the much-maligned House approved five other significant bills by nearly unanimous votes.
But this remarkable display of rancor-free bipartisanship went largely unnoticed by much of the main media, print or broadcast.
Voters instead were much more likely to read that lawmakers are incapable of tending to the nation's business.
But in fairness, the House did:
? Expedite the passage of a bill to formally authorize the Customs and Border Protection Agency as a part of the Department of Homeland Security and provide better congressional oversight.
The bill contained language directing the CBP to determine the causes of the recent surge in unaccompanied children and families seeking illegal entry, including whether it was due to a "perception" of "enforcement" policy - a polite way of asking whether Central American families perceived the Obama administration as more lenient on under-age illegal immigrants.
? Pass four bills to strengthen the powers of the Homeland Security Department to fight cyber crime and espionage. One bill sought to induce corporations to invest more in cyber security technology. A second provided for more research and development of cyber security technology. A third sought improvements in the development, recruitment and retention of federal cyber security experts. A fourth set guidelines for protecting personal information on federal websites.
The cyber security threat is one of biggest national security vulnerability - a fact heightened by last week's reported theft of computer passwords by Russian hackers.
Of course, those House bills are still pending in the Senate, just as some Senate bills are still pending in the House.
But despite partisan divisions heightened by election-year considerations, both chambers did show an encouraging willingness for compromise before the end of their last session.
Members of Congress might even be able to raise their institution's dismal public-approval numbers if they find more middle ground after returning from vacation.