Filibuster and Cloture (graph and explanation here)
The Senate’s standing committees play an essential part in the legislative process, as they select the small percentage of the bills introduced each Congress that, in their judgment, deserve the attention of the Senate as a whole, and as they recommend amendments to these bills based on their expert knowledge and experience. Most bills are routinely referred to the committee with appropriate jurisdiction as soon as they are introduced. However, paragraph 4 of Rule XIV permits a Senator to bypass a committee referral and have the bill placed directly on the Calendar of Business, with exactly the same formal status the bill would have if it had been considered and reported by a Senate committee.
Restrictive rules in the House
Divided government has been common. Split-party control of Congress has not.
Another view of productivity
But is the country suffering as a result?