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Congressional Velocity (March 2015 Update)

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This is the latest in a series of quarterly posts on congressional legislative output.  I started these in June 2013 in response to a flurry of commentary about how the 113th congress was lagging behind in output compared to previous congresses.  Now, it is fundamentally debatable if passing fewer laws is a good thing, a bad thing, or just a completely meaningless number since of course the impact of laws varies widely.  I’m guessing in reality, it is a pretty meaningless number.

But I noticed that in many of these debates, there was a lack of rigor in the ways these numbers were used.  For instance, it seemed common to compare the current number of laws passed in the 113th, to the TOTAL passed in the 112th or 111th.  Or maybe talking about the “pace” at which legislation was being passed as if there was an expectation that this would continue linearly.  Never did I hear a comparison that actually looked specifically at where the previous congresses had been at the same point in the cycle. So I made one.

Now the new stuff:

The 113th congress is over. No new laws were signed after my December update. So the 113th ended up with 294 bills signed compared to 239 in the 112th and 249 in the 11th.

But now the 114th congress is in session.  How is that going so far?

As of March 20th, the 76th day of the new congress, 6 bills have been signed into law:

  • Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015
  • Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act or the Clay Hunt SAV Act
  • Protecting Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act – to fund the Department of Homeland Security through March 6, 2015
  • An Act making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2015, and for other purposes.
  • An Act to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Foot Soldiers who participated in Bloody Sunday, Turnaround Tuesday, or the final Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in March of 1965,…
  • Office of Compliance Administrative and Technical Corrections Act of 2015

At the same time in the last few congresses, the 113th had 5 laws, the 112th had 6 laws, and the 11th had 10 laws. So for this time in the cycle, we’re pretty much right in line with the last two congresses, and just a tad behind the 111th.

Here are the graphs:

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 16.31.31000

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 16.31.48956

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