Contrary to conventional wisdom, Ron Elving notes that Congress can pass serious legislation during a midterm year:

A salient example of the latter dynamic would be the election year of 1996. Bill Clinton was running for a second term as president. Both the House and the Senate were controlled by Republicans, and it was the first time the House had a GOP majority to protect since the mid-1950s. One might have expected a donnybrook, with little or nothing getting done. After all, the Republicans had won their majorities in Congress largely by opposing Clinton, who was running for another term largely by vilifying Republican ideas about budget cuts. But the warring parties still managed to get together and enact several major pieces of legislation. Perhaps the biggest was a long-debated overhaul of the welfare system that Clinton called From Welfare to Work. But there was also major interest in law allowing employees to maintain their health insurance when changing jobs. Extending the bipartisan consensus still further, Clinton and the Capitol Hill leadership passed the first update to telecommunications laws in 60 years, strengthened the Safe Drinking Water Act and raised the minimum wage. While each of these measures generated friction within and between the parties, the ensuing election was generally good to incumbents in both. Clinton dominated in the Electoral College and the Republicans held their majorities on the Hill.