Day 198: Scorecard: Zero Major Legislative Wins for Trump
With both chambers of Congress in recess and Donald Trump having fled to New Jersey for a prolonged vacation, the record for the first half of year one is in the books. As even the conservative Washington Times agrees: Trump can’t hang his hat on a single legislative win. (And this isn’t even considering a border wall being no closer now than it was ten years ago; foreign policy being such a disaster that foreign diplomats are openly laughing about Trump; or a second executive order blocking Muslim refugees from entering the country languishing in the courts after the first one did the same thing.)
As Democrats and Republicans worked together to craft and pass a bill significantly sanctioning Russia while simultaneously preventing Trump from single-handedly reducing those very sanctions. Trump lamented having to sign a bill that handcuffed himself due to Congress’s veto-proof majority (only five members from the Senate and House combined voted against the measure).
He’s blaming Congress — a group that saw 517 out of 522 voting members in an era where they can’t seem to agree on anything — for sanctioning a geopolitical rival for, in part, interfering with a U.S. election. An odd position from the White House, to say the least.
But the last part of that tweet brings up another obvious point: he embarrassingly whiffed on repealing or replacing the Affordable Care Act, despite campaigning on it and publicly pressuring both the House and Senate to pass something, anything.
Tax reform — a GOP stalwart policy — is being pulled in a number of different directions by factions of both parties. It will be a lot more a challenge to get done now since Republicans were banking on balancing the budget with money saved by repealing the ACA.
In sum, Trump has put pen to paper on 43 bills. Most of the laws are extremely minor in nature — such as two laws renaming VA health centers, another to rename a courthouse, one approving a location in Washington to create a memorial to Gulf War veterans, and one expanding which holidays should have the American flag prominently displayed — and didn’t even register on the national radar.
A good way to measure the breadth of laws is to look at the number of words in each bill.
At the 100-day mark, Trump had signed twice as many laws as Obama at the same point of his presidency, but was dwarfed in pages (133 to Obama’s 1602) and words (79,003 to Obama’s 1,122,603). This was due in large part to the policy changes that Obama was able to implement, and the relatively straightforward, cursory laws that Trump has signed.
If Trump is looking to build a legislative legacy — and thus far, his rhetoric seems to indicate he’s only interested in destroying Obama’s — he certainly can’t look back at the first 198 days and be proud.
Put in a way that even he could understand: his scorecard through nine holes shows a ton of bogeys and double-bogeys; there isn’t a single birdie in sight.
198 days in, 1264 to go
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