President Obama is facing another smear on his legacy. Legislative action slowed to a crawl, according to the WashintongTies Legislative Index. Indeed Obama only signed 1,227 bills during his eight years in office. This breaks down to 153 bills a year.
Other presidents, even as one-termers, have actually legislated much more than Obama. However, Congress spent less time in session and handled less business on the floor so who is to blame?
Obama has a fully democratic Congress going into his first term but many Americans did not like the way he was leading. The two years spurred the Tea Party movement, a backlash against government overreach. Voter sent many home from the Democrat-controlled Congress and flooded D.C. with dozens of junior senators and congressmen. From then on, the Old Guard butted heads often with the fresh faces and DC was gridlocked.
Obama himself had a tough time reaching across the aisle to get things done, but refused to accept blame for the gridlock. During a parting speech from the White House, he ticked off a list of accomplishments, but only two of those required any work with Congress. That gridlock left Congress unproductive as well.
But even accounting for those big bills, the 111th Congress was still far from active by standards of the post-World War II era. The 383 bills signed into law made it the sixth least productive Congress on record. Even measured by the broader Times Legislative Index, it was middle of the pack.
The 2010 elections put Republicans in control of the House but left Democrats with a majority in the Senate, sending legislative activity into a tailspin for the next four years.
The 112th and 113th congresses were the worst on record, according to the The Times’ index, which checks a broad set of legislative measures, including amount of time spent in session, number of bills considered by each chamber, number of votes taken and number of bicameral conference reports approved. The index is based on data from the Congressional Record, which tracks back to 1947 and spans 35 Congresses.
Even still, Obama used Executive Order to try and pass many issues close to his own heart. In reality, Obama needed bilatteral support. He took gun control and ran with it, mandating background checks for more people. He also used Executive Order to try and expand amnesty for millions by pushing the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) ) Act.
Incoming President Donald Trump currently has at his disposal a Republican-controlled majority in Congress, so he should have no trouble accomplishing his agenda as he moves into office. He has already used his Twitter account to slap down some Republican-overreach as well.