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According to this article, Paul Ryan has passed only two bills during ~13 years in Congress. (By passed, I assume the article means authored or co-authored bills passed in at least the House.) Is this number actually unusual compared to the records of other Congresspeople? What is a recent rough average for bills authored and passed by Congresspeople?

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    According to some reports Barack Obama only worked 122 days in 4 years as a Senator for Illinois. Personally I think that is a stellar record from ryan if true. Even better if neither of them spent any actual money. – Chad Aug 15 '12 at 1:51
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    @Chad: I actually did not mean this question as a comparison between the presidential/vice-presidential candidates, but your comment sparked a new idea for google-research. According to link, Obama sponsored 137 bills and passed two in the Senate in ~3 years. This only gives us a comparison between a Congressman and a Senator, but your comment did lead me to govtrack.us, so thanks! – Nathan Aug 15 '12 at 2:03
  • I think the question of did he only pass 2 bills in 13 years is on topic. Is it unusual is probably off topic unless you have a claim that it is or is not unusual as well. – Chad Aug 15 '12 at 12:56
  • It would be reasonable, scientific and skeptical to examine the bill-passing record of other Congressmen for comparison with Ryan's record. – DJClayworth Aug 15 '12 at 13:20
  • @DJClayworth - I do not disagree. Though the policy of skeptics is that we require a notable claim to be skeptical of. So we need to find a claim of some other mudslinger who will claim it is unusual. I am sure the claim is out there if not I am sure it will come up in the next few months. – Chad Aug 15 '12 at 13:33
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I'm not sure this is really a good answer, but in the absence of others I started looking at Congresspeople who joined the House in 1999.

  • Shelley Berkley [D-NV1] Sponsored 109 Passed 5 (1 Bill, 4 Resolutions)
  • Michael Capuano [D-MA8] Sponsored 92 Passed 9 (2 Bills 7 Resolutions)
  • Joseph Crowley [D-NY7] Sponsored 136 Passed 23 (8 Bills 15 Resolutions)
  • Charles Gonzalez [R-TX20] Sponsored 62 Passed 4 (2 Bills 2 Resolutions)
  • Rush Holt [D-NJ12] Sponsored 252 Passed 13 (3 Bills 10 Resolutions)
  • Terry Lee [R-NE2] Sponsored 134 Passed 9 (1 Bill 8 Resolutions)
  • Jan Schakowsky [D-IL9] Sponsored 143 Passed 9 (1 Bill 8 Resolutions)
  • Mike Simpson [R-ID2] Sponsored 86 Passed 8 (6 Bills 2 Resolutions)
  • Lee Terry [R-NE2] Sponsored 134 Passed 9 (1 Bill 8 Resolutions)
  • Greg Walden [R-OR2] Sponsored 79 Passed 11 (9 Bills 2 Resolutions)
  • Paul Ryan [R-WI1] Sponsored 75 Passed 2 (2 Bills 0 Resolutions)

Data from GovTrack. Resolutions are what GovTrack calls "simple resolutions". What I've called Bills is anything that was signed by the President. I believe this is necessary for anything that actually changes, even if its for renaming a post office. Simple resolutions are the sort where "The House resolves that...".

The summary seems to be that where it counts (bills signed by the President) Ryan is about on the average for his contemporaries. However the numbers are so low that it is not fair to draw any meaningful conclusions. He is much lower on resolutions passed and lower for bills introduced.

I have to add that I am deeply skeptical that this tells us anything useful about Ryan or anyone else.

  • Interesting, I'm ignorant on the subject, are the congress members you posted the only ones that have the same amount of time in congress, or are there some omissions? According to what you've shown, he seems to be on the low end of the spectrum. – Garrett Fogerlie Aug 18 '12 at 17:12
  • @GarrettFogerlie There are some omissions, but I believe I have most. As I wrote above, Ryan is right on the median for bills passed. – DJClayworth Aug 18 '12 at 17:16
  • Added more representitives and now I believe I have everybody who joined the house in 1999 and is still there. Ryan is still median for bills signed into law. – DJClayworth Aug 18 '12 at 17:34
  • Very good research, wish I could vote it up again. Although he is still on the lower end (not that I have a dog in this fight,) especially if you use a weighted average between bills and resolutions. But like you say the numbers are so low that you can't draw any meaningful conclusions. – Garrett Fogerlie Aug 18 '12 at 17:46
  • My understanding is that resolutions are pretty irrelevant. On the other hand a bill that renames a post office is also barely relevant. Frankly I'm not sure this is even a good measure of legislator effectiveness. Isn't passing a substantial piece of legislation which someone else sponsored more significant than your own trivial bill? – DJClayworth Aug 18 '12 at 17:56

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