If your political party wants to pass legislation, here is a tip. Don't worry about the presidency or the Senate. Take the House.
As we noted in July, this current, 113th Congress has been remarkable in its inability to get anything done. At that point, only 15 laws had been signed into law. A bit of good news, then: the number has gone up. Slightly NBC News delineates the year so far.
At this point in George W. Bush’s second term as president, for example, 113 bills had been enacted into law, according to numbers crunched by Pew Research Center’s Drew DeSilver. In the same amount of time during the 110th Congress – from January until before the Thanksgiving recess of 2007 – that number was 120.
With the ceremonial measures excluded, according to DeSilver’s calculations, Congress has enacted just 44 “substantive” laws so far this year.
With the ceremonial measures, the count is only 52. But something occurred to us in looking at the data, which is available at GovTrack: most of those 52 laws were sponsored by Republican members of Congress. We went back and looked at each Congress back to the 100th (the last two years of the Reagan administration), to assess the party breakdown of signed legislation. Which gave us this.
That is the raw count of bills, of course. It's more telling if you look at the percentage of signed legislation. Once you adjust for that, you get the graph below, which is of the percentage of signed legislation that originated with each party (and independents).
Four Congresses in which Democrats had more bills signed into law. Then six dominated by Republicans. Two Democratic and two more Republican. Or: Precisely the breakdown of who controlled the House. On average, the party that controlled the House was responsible for the majority of laws signed into law a little over 75 percent of the time, regardless of how many laws were passed. When Democrats controlled the House, the total was slightly higher, 76 percent. When it was the GOP, 74 percent.
What's remarkable is that those percentages aren't much different than when a party controls both chambers of Congress but not the White House — or even all three. The sample sizes get a little small (Democrats and Republicans rarely control both chambers of Congress and the presidency) and there's overlap with the House data, but here are the percentages for each of those scenarios.
Party controls the House and Senate only
Party controls the House, Senate, and White House
Even when one party controlled the entire Congress and the White House, the opposition party saw bills signed into law 20 percent of the time. So you might as well take the House and not worry about the rest.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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