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Trump Signed 96 Laws In 2017. Here Is What They Do And How They Measure Up

Despite his own claims to the contrary, President Trump signed fewer laws than any of his recent predecessors. But numbers aren’t everything. Significance matters more

President Trump speaks about the Republican tax bill after signing it into law in the Oval Office on Dec. 22. Trump has signed 96 laws this year.

When President Trump signed the $1.5 trillion tax cut bill on Friday at the White House, he made a bold claim — that his “legislative approvals” were off the charts. “No. 1 in the history of our country,” he said, citing 88 as the number of bills he had signed into law.

The actual number of law Trump signed this year is 96. His claim of historic achievement isn’t accurate, either.

In sheer numbers of bills signed into law in a president’s first year in office (Jan. 20-Dec. 31), Trump is behind his six most recent predecessors.

Number of laws signed by each president between their Inauguration Day and Dec. 31 of that year.

During the tax bill signing, Trump went on to boast that he had exceeded even former President Harry Truman.

“Harry Truman had more legislative approvals than any other president and — a record long held,” Trump said. “And we beat him on legislative approvals, for which I get no credit.”

One reason he may not be getting credit is that, according to a rough estimate from the Truman Library, Trump isn’t even close to Truman’s record.

In any case, tallying laws signed is not necessarily a good way to measure accomplishment.

Political scientists say a far better — though more subjective — measure is significance, because not all bills are created equally. For instance, “S. 810: A bill to facilitate construction of a bridge on certain property in Christian County, Missouri, and for other purposes” isn’t in the same realm of significance as “H.R. 3364: Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.”

NPR analyzed all 96 laws signed by Trump this year, categorizing them. More than three dozen modify or extend existing law, 16 repeal rules and regulations using a process known as the Congressional Review Act, a dozen commemorate or honor people and organizations by doing things like renaming federal buildings, and seven provide temporary government funding or one-time disaster relief funds.

“This tax bill is a big deal,” said John Frendreis, professor of political science at Loyola University Chicago. “But I don’t think anybody would regard anything else that has come down the line as a significant legislative achievement.”

The 96 Laws President Trump Has Signed

Takes action needed every year/basic maintenance governing (2)

  • H.R. 244: “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017”
  • H.R. 2810: “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018”

Implements new policy (3)

  • S. 1094: “Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017”
  • H.R.3364: “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act”
  • H.R. 1: “An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018” (This is the GOP tax bill.)

Temporarily funds government, provides one-time disaster relief (7)

  • H.J.Res. 99: “Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2017, and for other purposes” 
  • H.R. 601: “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 and Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017”
  • H.R. 3732: “Emergency Aid to American Survivors of Hurricanes Irma and Jose Overseas Act”
  • H.R. 3823: “Disaster Tax Relief and Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 2266: “Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017”
  • H.J.Res. 123: “Making further continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2018, and for other purposes”
  • H.R. 1370: Continuing Appropriations Act, Department of Defense Missile Defeat and Defense Enhancements Appropriations Act, CHIP and Public Health Funding Extension Act, 2018

Repeals rules and regulations (16)

These resolutions were passed through a previously obscure process known as the Congressional Review Act, which requires only a simple majority for passage in the Senate. Because these measures can’t be filibustered in the Senate, they’ve been an easy way for Republicans, even with only a narrow Senate majority, to reverse Obama-era regulations that hadn’t yet taken effect.

  • H.J.Res. 67: “Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to savings arrangements established by qualified State political subdivisions for non-governmental employees”
  • H.J.Res. 43: “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule submitted by Secretary of Health and Human Services relating to compliance with title X requirements by project recipients in selecting subrecipients”
  • H.J.Res. 69: “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the final rule of the Department of the Interior relating to ‘Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska’ “
  • H.J.Res. 83: “Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to ‘Clarification of Employer’s Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness'”
  • S.J.Res. 34: “A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to ‘Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services’ “
  • H.J.Res. 42: “Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to drug testing of unemployment compensation applicants”
  • H.J.Res. 57: “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to accountability and State plans under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965”
  • H.J.Res. 58: “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to teacher preparation issues”
  • H.J.Res. 37: “Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration relating to the Federal Acquisition Regulation”
  • H.J.Res. 44: “Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior relating to Bureau of Land Management regulations that establish the procedures used to prepare, revise, or amend land use plans pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976”
  • H.J.Res. 40: “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Social Security Administration relating to Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007”
  • H.J.Res. 38: “Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of the Interior known as the Stream Protection Rule”
  • H.J.Res. 41: “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of a rule submitted by the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to ‘Disclosure of Payments by Resource Extraction Issuers’ “
  • S. 496: “A bill to repeal the rule issued by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration entitled ‘Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area Reform.’ “
  • H.J.Res. 66: “Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Labor relating to savings arrangements established by States for non-governmental employees.”
  • H.J.Res. 111: “Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection relating to “Arbitration Agreements.” 

Encourages an agency or the president to try something new (13)

  • H.R. 321: “Inspiring the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers (INSPIRE) Women Act”
  • H.R. 255: “Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act”
  • H.R. 534: “U.S. Wants to Compete for a World Expo Act”
  • H.R. 274: “Modernizing Government Travel Act”
  • H.R. 366: “DHS SAVE Act”
  • S. 327: “Fair Access to Investment Research Act of 2017”
  • S. 810: “A bill to facilitate construction of a bridge on certain property in Christian County, Missouri, and for other purposes”
  • S. 1141: “Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 1117: “To require the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to submit a report regarding certain plans regarding assistance to applicants and grantees during the response to an emergency or disaster”
  • S. 190: “Power And Security Systems (PASS) Act”
  • S. 920: “National Clinical Care Commission Act”
  • H.R. 194: “Federal Agency Mail Management Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 1545: “VA Prescription Data Accountability Act 2017”

Reauthorizes or modifies existing programs/law (37)

  • H.R. 353: “Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017”
  • S. 442: “National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017”
  • S. 419: “Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2017”
  • S. 583: “American Law Enforcement Heroes Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 72: “GAO Access and Oversight Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 657: “Follow the Rules Act”
  • S.1083: “A bill to amend section 1214 of title 5, United States Code, to provide for stays during a period that the Merit Systems Protection Board lacks a quorum”
  • H.R.3218: “Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017”
  • H.R.1238: “Securing our Agriculture and Food Act”
  • H.R.3298: “Wounded Officers Recovery Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 374: “To remove the sunset provision of section 203 of Public Law 105-384, and for other purposes”
  • H.R. 510: “Rapid DNA Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 2430: “FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 339: “Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act”
  • H.J.Res. 76: “Granting the consent and approval of Congress for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia to enter into a compact relating to the establishment of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission”
  • H.R. 2288: “Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017”
  • S. 1866: “Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria Education Relief Act of 2017”
  • S. 652: “Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2017”
  • S. 544: “A bill to amend the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to modify the termination date for the Veterans Choice Program, and for other purposes”
  • S.114: “VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 3819: “Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2017”
  • S. 585: “Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 1329: “Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 1616: “Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act of 2017”
  • S. 504: “Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards Act of 2017”
  • S. 782: “PROTECT Our Children Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 304: “Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 3031: “TSP Modernization Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 3243: “FITARA Enhancement Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 3949: “VALOR Act”
  • H.R. 4374: “To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to authorize additional emergency uses for medical products to reduce deaths and severity of injuries caused by agents of war, and for other purposes”
  • H.R. 228: “Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2017”
  • S. 371: “Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017, Improvements Act”
  • S. 1266: “Enhancing Veteran Care Act”
  • H.R. 624: “Social Security Number Fraud Prevention Act of 2017”
  • S. 178: “Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act”
  • H.R. 1679: “FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 2017”

Names something/sites a memorial/encourages flag flying/makes a statement (12)

  • S.J. Res. 1: “A joint resolution approving the location of a memorial to commemorate and honor the members of the Armed Forces who served on active duty in support of Operation Desert Storm or Operation Desert Shield”
  • H.R. 1362: “To name the Department of Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic in Pago Pago, American Samoa, the Faleomavaega Eni Fa’aua’a Hunkin VA Clinic”
  • H.R. 609: “To designate the Department of Veterans Affairs health care center in Center Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the ‘Abie Abraham VA Clinic'”
  • S. 305: “Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017”
  • H.R. 375: “To designate the Federal building and United States courthouse located at 719 Church Street in Nashville, Tennessee, as the ‘Fred D. Thompson Federal Building and United States Courthouse'”
  • H.R. 873: “Global War on Terrorism War Memorial Act”
  • H.R.2210: “To designate the community living center of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Butler Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the ‘Sergeant Joseph George Kusick VA Community Living Center'”
  • S.J.Res. 49: “A joint resolution condemning the violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place during events between August 11 and August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, recognizing the first responders who lost their lives while monitoring the events, offering deepest condolences to the families and friends of those individuals who were killed and deepest sympathies and support to those individuals who were injured by the violence, expressing support for the Charlottesville community, rejecting White nationalists, White supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups, and urging the President and the President’s Cabinet to use all available resources to address the threats posed by those groups.”
  • S. 1616: “Bob Dole Congressional Gold Medal Act”
  • H.R. 2519: “The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act”
  • H.R. 2989: “Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act”
  • S. 1617: “Javier Vega, Jr. Memorial Act of 2017”

Relates to personnel (6)

  • S.J.Res. 30: “A joint resolution providing for the reappointment of Steve Case as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution”
  • S.J.Res. 36: “A joint resolution providing for the appointment of Roger W. Ferguson as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution”
  • S.J.Res. 35: “A joint resolution providing for the appointment of Michael Govan as a citizen regent of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution”
  • H.R. 1228: “To provide for the appointment of members of the Board of Directors of the Office of Compliance to replace members whose terms expire during 2017, and for other purposes”
  • S. 84: “A bill to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces”
  • H.R. 3110: “Financial Stability Oversight Council Insurance Member Continuity Act”

Legislative links and text via GovTrack.

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