A somewhat comical post on a forum called “Above Top Secret” points out that Ron Paul has passed only one bill in Congress. The implication is that he isn’t an adept legislator, so he wouldn’t be a good president. He’s one of several vying for the Republican nomination for president of the United States in this year’s election, and today the Iowa caucuses kick off the process of choosing the Republican nominee.
(Happy 2012, by the way. There’s an election this year…)
The reason why that’s a comical post is that Ron Paul is known as “Dr. No” in Congress. He’s against everything. That’s part of his appeal to his supporters. They want a lot less of everything, which is not an illegitimate approach given the budget deficit, for example.
Paul’s legislative triumph was Public Law 111-76, which provided for the transfer of federal property to the Galveston Historical Foundation. Big whoop.
Only the most simplistic analysis counts the number of bills a legislator or a Congress passes and uses that to determine whether the legislator or the Congress is any good. The ideal number of bills might be zero, for goodness sake.
It’s not just obscure chat forums using that measure, though. Here’s NPR using bill counts as a proxy for congressional success, for example.
Congress has passed few bills this year, but you can’t say Congress is good or bad for that. You can say it’s bad for failing to budget and pass the annual spending bills on time, for passing short-term bills that deny the public the ability to plan, and for many other reasons. We do a lot of carping here about that stuff.
But let’s go with that proxy for legislative goodness, because Ron Paul isn’t the only federal legislator vying in Iowa for the Republican nomination. There’s also Michelle Bachman. And she has passed … zero laws during her service in Congress.
She has a few non-binding resolutions that she has gotten through. In the last Congress, Bachman passed H. Res. 373, expressing the House’s support for designation of the month of September as “National Hydrocephalus Awareness Month.”
In the 110th Congress, she passed two other non-binding resolutions: H. Res. 789, honoring public child welfare agencies, nonprofit organizations and private entities providing services for foster children, and H. Res. 923, recognizing the State of Minnesota’s 150th anniversary.
(Sorry, no links. We didn’t cover these non-binding, largely ceremonial bills back then. We do now, not because they’re important but because you should get to see how your members of Congress spend their time.)
Rick Santorum has actually passed some bills! Does that make him the “best” candidate? He passed three laws in the 109th Congress:
- Public Law 109-156, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Improvement Act
- Public Law 109-242, the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act of 2006; and
- Public Law 109-416, the Combating Autism Act of 2006.
And two in the 108th:
- Public Law 108-105, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003; and
- Public Law 108-273, to designate the United States courthouse and post office building located at 93 Atocha Street in Ponce, Puerto Rico, as the “Luis A. Ferre United States Courthouse and Post Office Building.
In the 107th Congress:
- Public Law 106-290, to expand the boundaries of the Gettysburg National Military Park to include Wills House; and
- Public Law 106-535, to designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 431 George Street in Millersville, Pennsylvania, as the “Robert S. Walker Post Office.”
And his first Congress of service, the 104th:
There are other candidates, or course. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and John Huntsman all served as governors, of Texas, Massachusetts, and Utah, respectively. There’s Gary Johnson, of course, the candidate Republicans won’t let you see. He was governor of New Mexico.
So there you have it: top federal legislator Rick Santorum. He’s our pick for: person who passed more bills than the others.
Congratulations Senator Santorum! On this basis, you should be swept into the presidency!
During his time in the Senate, President Obama only passed the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2008, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006.