Is it simply an inability to focus on a legislation overload?
The phrase “do-nothing” Congress has been around for as long as most of us. And whether it’s a fair statement, it certainly is a real perception. Seems the only things of note that ever get passed are multi-thousand page omnibus spending bills. You know, the ones we have to pass so we can find out what’s in them.
As Fresh435 compiles its Overstayer Profiles, one thing we notice is the Democratic side of the aisle appears to introduce a lot more legislation than their opponents. So, we decided to drill into that a bit. Here’s what we found.
Our chart below breaks down bill introduction activity (data from Govtrack) by party and Rep tenure over the five-year period from 2016-20. In general, Democratic Congresspersons have always introduced more legislation on a per Rep basis than their Republican counterparts. The margin was 10-15% per rep more from 2016-18. But, when the Dems took control of the House in 2019, the gap exploded to nearly 2-1 and the average volume per Democratic Representative skyrocketed to 30!
There is also a general trend to write more legislation the longer one is in the House–yet another great reason to limit the stay to three terms or less!
Let’s examine the volume a bit. It’s no surprise the Democrats write more legislation. The party of Big Government is trying to create more government. But, a Democratic per Rep average that was hovering around 18 bills per year from 2016-19 increased by 67% in 2020. Maybe that was pandemic related. Maybe it was a desire to return to a heavier regulatory environment. We haven’t yet spent the time looking at the detail.
But, it does raise an interesting question. How is a legislative body supposed to “do something” when faced with over 10,000 pieces of newly offered legislation while they only work 150 days per year on average to process it? How about we elect a body of fresh-thinking, low-volume but high quality legislation authors and find out?