How Many “Bills” Has YOUR MN Congressperson “Passed”?

Mad Voter in MN CD 4

Earlier today a tweet scrolled across my tweetdeck by a user named “Mad Voter in MN CD4” that caught my interest. The user, I assume a conservative, asked the Minnesota DFL Party and Democrats in general, I assume, to count the number of “bills” passed by Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum who represents the 4th Congressional District. The implication being that McCollum is ineffective due to the perceived lack of “bills” passed. Given the limitations of twitter and its 140 character limit, the tweet did not define what types of bills or legislation or amendments were acceptable to “Mad Voter” nor did the tweet address whether they truly believed whether the number of bills passed by a member of Congress was the best metric for effectiveness. The only other piece of information offered was a blog dedicated to opposition research on Congresswoman McCollum.

Even though the tweet was probably little more than an attempt to make the political hit point that McCollum is ineffective because she hasn’t passed enough bills and therefore doesn’t do any work in the estimation of the twitter user I decided to give their overall point some examination by doing a little research.

Rather than simply focus on McCollum, I did some basic research on every current member of the House of Representatives from Minnesota. I began by searching for EVERY piece of legislation (public bills, resolutions, and amendments) offered by each member in every term of Congress in which they served. From there I defined a “bill passed” as any piece of legislation (public bill, resolution, or amendment) that either became a public law in the case of a public bill, passed the House of Representatives in the case of a resolution, or that amended a piece of legislation that eventually became a public law. Here are the raw numbers I collected:

MN 1st Congressional District – Tim Walz (D) 2007-2013

  • 45 TOTAL pieces of legislation sponsored
  • 2 Bills PASSED
  • 1 Amendment agreed to which became law

MN 2nd Congressional District – John Kline (R) 2003-2013

  • 50 TOTAL pieces of legislation sponsored
  • 6 Bills PASSED
  • 2 Amendments agreed to which became law

MN 3rd Congressional District – Erik Paulsen (R) 2009-2013

  • 46 TOTAL pieces of legislation sponsored
  • 0 Bills PASSED
  • 1 Amendment agreed to which became law

MN 4th Congressional District – Betty McCollum (D) 2001-2013

  • 81 TOTAL pieces of legislation sponsored
  • 5 Bills PASSED
  • 2 Amendments agreed to which became law

MN 5th Congressional District – Keith Ellison (D) 2007-2013

  • 85 TOTAL pieces of legislation sponsored
  • 3 Bills PASSED
  • 0 Amendment agreed to which became law

MN 6th Congressional District – Michele Bachmann (R) 2007-2013

  • 48 TOTAL pieces of legislation sponsored
  • 3 Bills PASSED
  • 0 Amendment agreed to which became law

MN 7th Congressional District – Collin Peterson (D) 1991-2013

  • 161 TOTAL pieces of legislation sponsored
  • 6 Bills PASSED
  • 4 Amendments agreed to which became law

MN 8th Congressional District – Chip Cravaack (R) 2011-2013

  • 9 TOTAL pieces of legislation sponsored
  • 1 Bills PASSED
  • 2 Amendment agreed to which became law

Given that these are raw numbers of legislation passed by each member there isn’t much context. Stay tuned for some future posts to add context to the numbers. Also, if you believe there are errors or gaps in the above raw data, please let me know as I want to make sure this is an accurate representation of the “bills passed” by each member of our congressional delegation.

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  • Rodd Cairns

    nice reaction.  Betty is stellar.

  • Thegracekelly

    Nice use of data.What really stands out is Cravaack. Did he even show up? Maybe attendance could be your next post.

  • MinnesotaCentral

    As an old accountant, there is a phrase that comes to mind “Liars figure
    and Figures lie.”

    Thus the number of bills may have more to do with responsibility and
    motivation. For example, as a Committee Chairman, it would be likely that
    Peterson and Kline should have more than others. Thus, if you look at Kline,
    this session he has sponsored a number of bills regarding education reform but
    NONE have gotten a vote by the Full House … that is a FAILURE for a Chairman
    of the Committee considering that the Republicans have a big majority. As
    Chairman though, he has allowed other Members to put their name on as sponsor
    — take the recently House-approved Student Loan Interest legislation … after
    President Obama forced the issue, the House Republicans had to do something
    (Kline never held a hearing despite having had legislation offered by the
    Democrats in his committee) and they were being bashed over the “War On Women”,
    so Judy Biggert (R-IL) is listed as prime sponsor (if you watched the video clip
    on John Stewart’s Daily Show you saw how Kline treated Representative
    Biggert).

    OK, now let’s consider motivation. Without digging, I will bet that Walz’s
    high numbers are due to Veterans issues … a passion of his and something that
    is within his legislative area as a member of the Veterans Affairs committee.

    Yet, if you look at the issue that got Walz headlines this year, it was the
    STOCK Act … Walz’s bill never got a vote by the full House … Eric Cantor’s
    did … Eric Cantor’s flawed legislation was approved. Do we give credit for
    Walz pushing some improvement or just mark his legislation as a bill that never
    was approved. That can happen when a Member pushes an idea and “his bill” never
    gets approved but “his idea” gets incorporated into a larger bill … or was
    instrumental in other changes.

    For example, Bachmann is motivated for her Lightbulb Freedom Bill … it’s
    never been enacted under her name, but it has been taken up by other Members
    (primarily Michael Burgess) and the House has denied funding for implementation
    or enforcement. So Bachmann would never get credit on a scorecard, but her
    “motivation” was successful.

    The use of appropriations funding can be just as influential as enacting a
    law. McCollum has recently gotten restrictions on funding Military Bands (yes
    musicians) and military advertising at NASCAR events … she would get no credit
    for that on a scorecard but she was successful.

    Just because someone got a bill approved … how much credit do they
    individually deserve?  For example, Kline is doing a lot of self-back-slapping
    after President Obama signed the Red Bull leave legislation … okay, first
    question – would Shelley Madore not have gotten the same legislation approved ?
    Second question … why did this take so long … the problem was known last
    October … Kline sits on the House Armed Services Committee yet he did not
    offer legislation until this year … then never pushed for a hearing or
    enactment of it … then he rushed a bill for an immediate floor vote after the soldiers returned, and if you watched the floor “debate” then you saw Cravaack,
    McCollum, Paulsen and Walz all implore an empty Chamber to approve this bill
    …. the only question was asked by the Delegate from Guam who wondered why
    Kline didn’t handle this through normal Committee process … it passed on a
    voice vote. So Kline gets one bill passed … “his” scorecard looks
    better.

    Lastly, how many of these bills are really impact us … yes, all
    Minnesotans are proud that Cravaack got HR 3220 approved … but really naming a
    Post Office in Pine City is not something that anyone should be putting on their
    political tombstone.

    Isn’t that the real question … did the bills you supported make a better
    America ? Paulsen has a major bill that the House will vote on this summer —
    to repeal the Medical Device Tax … he has broad support yet nobody has
    challenged the fearmongering data that Paulsen cites (it is suspect) but
    Corporate America does not want to pay taxes, so Republicans and Democrats will
    probably approve it … Paulsen will get a win on his scorecard but without an
    offset, the deficit will grow and America will be the loser.

    Rather than focus on “numbers of bills”, I would rather have someone cite
    the impact that the Representative has had in the Committees that they are
    assigned … McCollum has been active in the Appropriations Committee and her
    floor speeches represent everyday Americans …

    But if “numbers” are important, than how about looking at the one “number”
    a Member can control … how well, they spend our taxdollars on their
    Congressional Office …

    Based on the actual dollars spent for last year, the top spender
    was :$1,319,468.42 – John Kline (R-MN-02) spending 91.6% of his
    budgetand the bottom was$1,198.273.03 – Betty McCollum (D-MN-04)
    spending 84.0% of her budget

    Betty gets my vote.
     

  • Minnesota Central

    Just curious, so if Betty McCollum only passed five bills but sits on the
    Budget Committee with Paul Ryan (where she has been in the minority for more
    years than in the majority), what is the reaction to Paul Ryan having passed
    only TWO bills that he authored ?

    One, was for a Post Office in his district … named after Les Aspin … a former House Republican … thus probably not that difficult to get
    approved.

    But the other bill is more interesting … it was a piece of legislation
    that would be called a TAX EARMARK … the legislation amended the Internal
    Revenue Code to impose a 39-cent tax per arrow shaft, instead of a 12.4 percent
    tax on the sales price. The bill also “includes points suitable for use with
    arrows in the 11 percent excise tax on arrow parts and accessories.” As a tax
    earmark, it will “keep on giving” because as the price of arrows increases the
    tax on arrows will now remain constant and as such, tax earmarks are more
    expensive than appropriations earmarks in that they reduce overall
    revenue on a continuing basis.

    This Congress has failed to address a number of issues — like No Child
    Left Behind … but one area that it could accomplish this year is a
    Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) process …
    whereby Congress would grant TAX EARMARK relief for a number of products … if
    so, then John Kline may get credit as a co-sponsor of the Affordable
    Footwear Act (AFA) of 2011 (H.R. 2697) which is a bill that
    would temporarily eliminate approximately 40% of the $2 billion in duties paid
    on imported shoes …

    Meet the Republicans who only seem to have only one goad … reduce
    taxes.

  • http://twitter.com/iAmeriCaRR Eric Carr

    Bills passed is not the issue: you only have to be present to vote to see a bill passed. The real issue that I think MadVoter wanted to look at was how many bills has your congressperson written that have passed and become law.

  • MinnesotaCentral

    MadVoter should be asking a different question … not how many bills did your Member of Congress pass, but instead do you agree with the bills that were offered ?

    For example, is the bill that is offered, good legislation that will
    improve our country … or is it offered to appease a limited, selected group of individuals.

    For example, John Kline (R-MN-02) has authored the H.R. 1621 -Marine Corps Aviation Centennial Commemorative Coin Act and H.R.3981 – Honoring Our Nation’s Outstanding Rifle Squads Act … if they get passed, then MadVoter would count them as two bills … but is that the measure that you want ?

    Conversely, Tim Walz (D-MN-01) has gotten two bills signed by the President this year – related to veterans and jobs — but the bill that he is best associated with the STOCK Act was not approved by Congress … instead, Eric Cantor’s version of the bill was approved (a much weaker version) … so to MadVoter, Walz gets credit for two bills but really, voters should be angry that the bill Representative Walz championed failed.

    Let’s look at Raymond Cravaack (R-MN-08) … he has pushed to defund the Institute of Peace … issuing press releases about his efforts … guess what, it was funded last year, and for FY2013, the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee recommendation includes “$37,400,000, as authorized, for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), which is $6,811,000 above the fiscal year 2012 enacted level” … OK, so Raymond gets credit for a Post Office bill and no one talks about how House Republicans actually will spend more for a program that he opposes … but Raymond will publicize his efforts to save
    taxpayer dollars.

    How about Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) … his signature bill is the repeal of the Medical Device Tax … okay, that does have wide implications … yet it will benefit a selected industry … and the offset to pay for it will impact more people … IMO, it’s probably the worst bill that the House has approved this year
    (just read the supporting report and industry commentary, and you will realize that the taxpayers are being played as suckers.) Paulsen will get credit (if it ever becomes law) in MadVoter’s analysis … but it is a very bad bill.

    How about Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06) … her signature bill is the Stillwater Bridge … a project that was created by an earmark and has limited implications – something that Congresswoman Bachmann would normally oppose if it was in other parts of the country … while her district may like getting the project, the broad American electorate may disagree.

    So let’s move on to the target of Mad Voter … Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) …
    yep, she voted for Paulsen’s Medical Device Tax bill but protested the funding offset and pledge to continue to seek a better funding offset in a presumed House-Senate conference … but she has also championed a number of Taxpayer Savings bills …

    How much do you think that taxpayers should spend for radio and television broadcasts into Cuba ? The House Republican-controlled Appropriations Committee advocates increasing FY 2013 by $4,468,000 to $28,062,000 for OCB, Radio and TV Marti … Congresswoman McCollum has introduced Stop Wasting Taxpayer Money On Cuba Broadcasting Act (H.R. 1317) to end U.S. taxpayer funding for Radio and Television Martí.
    I agree with Congresswoman McCollum … this is a waste and ineffective as a January 2009, GAO reports that the best available research suggests that Radio and TV Martí’s audience is small, and cited telephone surveys since 2003 showing that less than 2% of respondents reported tuning in to Radio or TV Martí.

    It has been well reported of Congresswoman McCollum’s efforts to reduce funding for military bands … did you know that over four years, the Department of Defense has spent a stunning $1.55 billion on military bands, musical performances, and concert tours around the world. That’s right, $1.55 billion in
    taxpayer funds for 4 years for military bands. Congresswoman McCollum offered an amendment to reduce the Pentagon spending for military bands and musical performances from the $388 million in this bill to $200 million for fiscal year 2013 — a $188 million reduction.
    Congresswoman McCollum failed despite getting support from leading Republicans such as Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor … as
    Minnesota Republicans Bachmann, Cravaack and Kline said let the band play on.

    It has also been well reported of Congresswoman McCollum’s efforts regarding Department of Defense spending at least $63 million in taxpayer funds to sponsor motorsports for so-called recruitment purposes and her efforts to limit it to $20 million … once again Paul Ryan was at her side, but Minnesota Republicans Bachmann, Cravaack, Kline and Paulsen said “start your engines” … let’s waste some taxpayer money.

    Yep, Congresswoman McCollum has failed by MadVoter’s criteria … sadly, her message of making “smart cuts that reduce the federal deficit by eliminating ineffective, outdated, and unnecessary programs,” has been lost on Republicans.

    It is misguided to “count bills passed” … instead look at what the Member proposes and who benefits … IMO, America needs more Betty McCollums in Congress and less self-promoting out-of-touch Republicans representing Washington embedded interests.