FACT CHECK: Has The House Passed A Thousand Bills This Session?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

House Speaker Paul Ryan said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that the House of Representatives has passed about 1,000 bills this session of Congress.

“You take a look at the bills we pass out of the House, about a thousand bills. It’s been one of the most productive sessions of Congress in a generation,” he said.

Verdict: True

The House has passed 1,032 bills and joint resolutions in the current session, the third highest number in the last 30 years. The number of bills that have become law, however, is low compared to the last few decades.

Fact Check:

Ryan cited the number of bills passed while touting the House’s accomplishments. “So we’ve tackled opioids. We’ve tackled human trafficking. We’ve rebuilt the military. All of those are bipartisan. But they don’t get reported,” he said.

Library of Congress records on Congress.gov show that the House has passed 1,004 bills and 28 joint resolutions, which are very similar to bills, in the current 2017-2018 congressional session, for a total of 1,032. This includes legislation approved in the House that failed in the Senate or was never considered by the Senate, legislation that started in the Senate, legislation passed by both chambers that has not yet been signed by the president and legislation that has been signed into law.

It is the third most bills and joint resolutions approved by the House since the 100th Congress that ran from 1987 to 1988.

The number of bills and joint resolutions enacted in the current session, however, will be one of the lowest, if not the lowest, on record in Congress.gov archives dating back to 1973. In the current congressional session, the 115th Congress, 275 bills and joint resolutions have become law. The 114th Congress saw 329 new laws, 460 bills and joint resolutions became law during the 110th Congress and the 106th Congress saw 604 become law.

“The House can pass all it wants, but if the Senate doesn’t pass it in identical form by the end of the year – and by and large it won’t – then these bills aren’t worth more than bupkis,” Josh Tauberer, creator of GovTrack, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “On January 3 at noon, when the next Congress begins, bills that haven’t been enacted are cleared from the book and everything starts over.”

Tauberer questioned Ryan’s claim that this has been one of the most productive sessions of Congress in a generation.

“The only way to judge whether the House or Congress as a whole has been productive is to look at the substances of the bills enacted into law,” he said. Many bills simply name post offices, for instance.

“You can’t count the number of bills (of which there has been close to the fewest in modern history) or the number of pages of bills (of which there has been close to the most in modern history). You have to ask whether Congress has enacted meaningful legislation,” Tauberer said.

Notable legislative items passed by the current Congress and signed into law include the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that also eliminated the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, the Right to Try Act that lets terminally ill patients try drugs not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, a bill that gives prosecutors more power against websites that post ads for prostitution and opioids legislation that promotes research for non-addictive pain drugs and expands treatment options for Medicaid patients.

Many of President Donald Trump’s top issues and priorities have not been addressed with new laws, though. Tauberer said that the Affordable Care Act is “largely unchanged” and that there hasn’t been any major legislation passed on immigration or the southern border wall.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter