Trump says he has signed more leg­is­la­tion than any pres­i­dent, ever. He hasn’t.

The Buffalo News - - WASHINGTON NEWS - By Michael D. Shear and Karen Yourish

WASH­ING­TON – To hear Pres­i­dent Trump tell it, his first six months in the White House should be judged in part by the leg­is­la­tion he has signed into law.

At ral­lies, in speeches and on Twit­ter, Trump re­peat­edly boasts of the bills he has signed – 42 as of this week. He has said no pres­i­dent has “passed more leg­is­la­tion,” con­ced­ing once ear­lier this year that he trails Franklin D. Roo­sevelt, who he notes “had a ma­jor De­pres­sion to han­dle.”

On Mon­day, he went even fur­ther, claim­ing to have bested all of his pre­de­ces­sors in turn­ing bills into law.

“We’ve signed more bills – and I’m talk­ing about through the Leg­is­la­ture – than any pres­i­dent, ever,” Trump said at a “Made in Amer­ica” event at the White House. “For a while, Harry Tru­man had us. And now, I think, we have ev­ery­body.”

Turn­ing to Vice Pres­i­dent Pence, he added an aside about news me­dia fact-check­ers: “I bet­ter say ‘think’; oth­er­wise they will give you a Pinoc­chio. And I don’t like Pinoc­chios.”

In fact, as he ap­proaches six months in of­fice Thurs­day, Trump is slightly be­hind the law­mak­ing pace for the past six pres­i­dents, who as a group signed an av­er­age of 43 bills dur­ing the same pe­riod. And an anal­y­sis of the bills Trump signed shows that about half were mi­nor and in­con­se­quen­tial, passed by Congress with lit­tle de­bate. Among re­cent pres­i­dents, both the to­tal num­ber of bills he signed and the leg­is­la­tion’s sub­stance make Trump about av­er­age.

Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter signed 70 bills in the first six months, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis of bills signed by pre­vi­ous White House oc­cu­pants. Bill Clin­ton signed 50. George W. Bush signed 20 bills into law. Barack Obama signed 39 bills dur­ing the pe­riod, in­clud­ing an $800 bil­lion stim­u­lus pro­gram to con­front an eco­nomic dis­as­ter, leg­is­la­tion to make it eas­ier for women to sue for equal pay, a bill to give the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion the author­ity to reg­u­late to­bacco and an ex­pan­sion of the fed­eral health in­sur­ance pro­gram for chil­dren.

Tru­man and Roo­sevelt both had signed more bills into law by their 100day mark than Trump did in al­most twice that time. Tru­man had signed 55 bills and Roo­sevelt had signed 76 dur­ing their first 100 days.

Trump has signed sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant bills, many in the works on Capi­tol Hill since well be­fore he ar­rived in the Oval Of­fice, as is of­ten the case for new pres­i­dents.

Trump’sal­lies­point­toa­bill­h­e­signed to im­prove ac­count­abil­ity and over­haul ser­vices at the scan­dal-plagued Vet­er­ans Af­fairs De­part­ment.

They note that the pres­i­dent signed into law spend­ing plans that will sig­nif­i­cantly raise fed­eral ex­pen­di­tures on the mil­i­tary and bor­der se­cu­rity. And they say Trump and the Repub­li­can­led Congress worked to me­thod­i­cally re­duce the bur­den of govern­ment reg­u­la­tion. That ef­fort to undo reg­u­la­tion in­volved 15 new laws, which were the re­sult of an ag­gres­sive push to em­ploy a lit­tle-used leg­isla­tive tool to roll back govern­ment rules put in place by Obama. Those new laws could re­sult in a sig­nif­i­cant shift in the way govern­ment reg­u­lates em­ployee ben­e­fits, worker safety, the en­vi­ron­ment, pub­lic lands and ed­u­ca­tion.

“These re­peal bills are now law, which means those Obama reg­u­la­tions have been struck from the books – for­ever,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said re­cently.

And leg­is­la­tion is not the only tool pres­i­dents can wield to en­act their agen­das. His aides note that Trump has used ex­ec­u­tive or­ders, such as his ban on travel to the United States for refugees and those liv­ing in some Mus­lim coun­tries, to get around what they say is un­prece­dented ob­struc­tion by Democrats. And he suc­cess­fully won con­fir­ma­tion of Neil M. Gor­such to the Supreme Court.

But al­most half the other bills Trump has signed into law are cer­e­mo­nial or rou­tine. The pres­i­dent in­cludes in his count laws like the one to re­name the fed­eral court­house in Nashville, Tenn., af­ter Fred Thomp­son, the ac­tor and for­mer se­na­tor who died in 2015. Even the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship in the Se­nate does not count those kinds of bills when they tally their leg­isla­tive achieve­ments.

By con­trast, Trump’s tally in­cludes three laws to ap­point mem­bers to the Smith­so­nian Board of Re­gents, an­other to seek re­search into bet­ter weather re­ports, and one to re­quire the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity to man­age its fleet of ve­hi­cles more ef­fi­ciently.

Marc Short, the pres­i­dent’s top leg­isla­tive ad­viser, ac­knowl­edged that no one would try to claim that re­nam­ing a build­ing should be con­sid­ered “land­mark leg­is­la­tion.” But he de­fended the pres­i­dent’s re­peated pro­mo­tion of the bills he has signed into law.

“It’s a re­sponse to a lot of me­dia cov­er­age that has tried to down­play what he’s ac­com­plished,” Short said. “There’s an over­ar­ch­ing cov­er­age about what’s not been ac­com­plished. The pres­i­dent is try­ing to point out what we ac­tu­ally have done.”

Trump has signed two bud­get bills that would be re­quired of any pres­i­dent. He signed a law largely en­dors­ing the bud­get for NASA that Obama had laid out. And Trump tem­po­rar­ily ex­tended Obama’s pro­gram that gives vet­er­ans a choice of see­ing a pri­vate doc­tor in cer­tain cases.

The pres­i­dent com­plains that he has not got­ten the news cov­er­age he de­serves for his leg­isla­tive achieve­ments, though his bill sign­ings are of­ten aired live on tele­vi­sion and his push to re­verse reg­u­la­tions has been widely cov­ered.

Trump may yet as­sem­ble a more far-reach­ing leg­isla­tive record. Get­ting com­pre­hen­sive leg­is­la­tion through Congress and to the pres­i­dent’s desk takes time, even when the pres­i­dent’s party con­trols both chambers of Congress.

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