The 5 Temper Tantrums That Defined Washington Dysfunction This Year

Sometimes Congress acts more like a petulant toddler than a deliberative body.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaking on the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol  on Sept. 24, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
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When Americans prefer cockroaches to Congress, something's amiss.

How could America hate such a quirky cast of characters?

From Ted Cruz's dramatic reading of Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" this year to Claire McCaskill's show stopping tweets, Congress has proven itself to be entertaining. Yet, when it comes to productivity, the larger than life characters don't always play nice.

Here are the five biggest congressional temper tantrums Americans endured this year.

The Government Shutdown

Let's just get it out of the way. The 16-day federal government shutdown furloughed 800,000 federal workers and cost the economy $24 billion in potential revenues.

National parks and monuments were closed, the National Institutes of Health suspended research, and programs designed to soften the economic hardships of the poor like Meals on Wheels and Head Start faced cuts.

It was the ultimate show of congressional dysfunction.

Republicans insisted on defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act (which passed back in 2010) in exchange for keeping the government's lights on. Cruz, the junior Republican senator from Texas, and the Heritage Foundation pushed the plan during the August recess and by October, the framework was in place.

[READ: John Boehner Unchained: Why the House Speaker Finally Stood Up To the Far Right]

There were a lot of headline grabbing moments from Cruz's 21-hour talk-a-thon to House Speaker John Boehner's refusal to bring a funding bill to the floor because it would force him to rely more on Democratic votes than Republican ones.

There was a silver lining, however.

To end the government shutdown Republicans and Democrats appointed Budget Chairmen Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to set spending levels for the next two years. While some doubted the bipartisan coalition could hammer out a deal. Murray and Ryan found an $85 billion compromise bill that could keep the country from a government shutdown in 2014.

The Nuclear Meltdown of the Senate

Fed up with Republican filibusters on judges and political appointees in the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid finally pulled the lever and changed the Senate's rules.

Republicans defended the filibusters and said they were keeping the Obama administration from stacking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit with liberal judges. Democrats blasted Republicans for holding up qualified candidates.

The rules change means that the Democratic majority in the Senate can approve the president's judicial and executive nominees with a simple majority vote. Democrats – or Republicans should they regain control of the Senate any time in the future – will still need 60 votes for Supreme Court justices. Before the rules change, the minority party could stand in the way of presidential appointments and require a 60-vote threshold.

[ALSO: GOP Civil War Erupts Over Budget Deal]

"It's time to get the Senate working again, not for the good of the current Democratic majority or some future Republican majority, but for the good of the country. It's time to change the Senate, before this institution becomes obsolete," Reid said on the Senate floor the day of the vote.

The November reform, however, further divided an already embattled Senate. In the weeks that followed, Republicans used every procedural tactic left in the book to continue slow rolling the confirmation process.

While Democratic Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted against the rules change, junior senators, many of whom had never served in the minority, urged Reid on.

Republicans had inched close to invoking the so-called nuclear option back in 2005 when 10 of President George W. Bush's judicial nominees were held up for nearly two years, but ultimately ruled it out.

No Farm Bill

Congress will once again ring in the new year without a new farm bill.

After three years of partisan bickering, Congress has yet to pass an updated bipartisan farm bill. Until recently, farm bills were a trademark of congressional cooperation. Urban and rural lawmakers worked together to negotiate the country's food policy from the sugar program to price supports for corn. They negotiated agricultural subsidies for farmers and appropriated funding for food stamps.