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What Bills From Western PA Reps Did President Trump Sign?

Mark Tenally

As Congress wraps up its 116th session, diligent constituents may check in to see how their representatives fared at authoring legislation. In western Pennsylvania, Democrat Conor Lamb was the only Congressman to get anything signed by President Trump. But tallying up how many bills a member of Congress gets signed into law is just one of many ways to gauge efficacy.
“On paper, it looks like a piece of legislation never really went anywhere, when in fact, it got subsumed into a bigger bill,” said University of Pittsburgh political science professor Kris Kanthak. “It’s hard to tell what’s going on in Congress on a day-to-day basis, and that’s on purpose, because it makes it really difficult for you to look at your individual member of Congress and say, ‘Is this person making a difference or not?’”

Lamb was a prime sponsor for a suicide-prevention measure to provide vets with more holistic mental health services, like acupuncture and yoga. Another bill he sponsored created a grant program to educate communities about veteran cemeteries.

Democrat Mike Doyle and Republicans Guy Reschenthaler and Mike Kelly all introduced plenty of bills, but none made it out of committee.

Kanthak said there are other ways voters can think about the work their representatives are doing that can help assess efficacy. Among them: the length of the bill.

“One thing you can look at is the number of pages,” she said. “That actually gives you a bit of a better of a measure, because if someone’s getting a hundred bills changing the names of post offices, that’s a really different thing than one bill that is changing how we do health care in the United States.”

Since he was elected in 2010, Mike Kelly has sponsored two bills that became law. Each renamed a VA health care facility.

Kanthak also suggested that voters consider the long view. Passing just one bill in over a decade doesn’t prove a lawmaker is ineffective -- if that bill does something like overhaul the healthcare system.

“If you introduce a piece of healthcare legislation and you’ve been introducing health care legislation since the 1980s and 30 years later it starts moving our conversation about health care, then that is going to be effective,” she said. “But you don’t know that when someone’s first introducing that legislation.”