Republicans won a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterm elections and promised to pass new laws to boost the economy, protect public safety, deliver greater government accountability, and protect individual liberty. But in their first year in the majority, they passed only 34 bills and resolutions that became law, few of which did anything to address those issues.
Touting his party’s midterm agenda package, Michigan Republican Rep. John Moolenaar tweeted in October 2022: “The past two years have revealed that the Democrats don’t have the answers. Remember the answer Republicans have – The Commitment to America. We will work to implement these solutions when we take back the House.”
But while he and the five other Republicans in the state’s House delegation filed more than 70 bills in the first year of the 118th Congress, most of them had nothing to do with those stated policy areas. Just one, a proposal by Rep. Jack Bergman to rename a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Indian River, Michigan, was signed into law. Many of the other bills focused on right-wing social issues and did not get a vote on the House floor.
The total of 34 laws enacted was well below the typical output for the previous 20 years, according to data from the website GovTrack. Since January 2003, the average number of bills passed in Congress that have become law each year has been 195, including in years with a divided government, with full Democratic control, and with full Republican control.
Though House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) announced in December 2022 that his caucus would “hit the ground running in our first weeks in the majority” by passing 11 “ready-to-go” conservative policy proposals in the first two weeks, including cuts to Internal Revenue Service funding, abortion restrictions, and an increase in fossil fuel drilling on federal lands. The Republican majority instead spent most of that time holding 15 roll-call votes on who would be speaker of the House.
Amid massive infighting and disarray within the Republican caucus, much of that 11-piece package remained stalled months later without getting a House vote and other policy priorities were pulled from the floor after failing to muster a majority. The House later spent three weeks and four more votes on electing a new speaker in October after far-right Republicans ousted Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
Of the 34 items signed into law, almost none addressed the GOP’s stated economic, safety, or accountability priorities.
Three were stop-gap bills to keep the federal government functioning after Congress failed to pass its appropriations bills on time. Three more were resolutions appointing regents to the board of regents of the Smithsonian Institution. Another authorized a commemorative coin to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“They’ve been at this for almost a year, the Republican Conference,” Ohio Democratic Rep. Greg Landsman told Spectrum News in December. “It’s clearly a dysfunctional group. They can’t govern. They’re not being serious about this moment.”
Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy called the year a total failure.
“One thing. I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing. One. That I can go campaign on and say we did. One,” Roy said in a Nov. 15 floor speech. “Anybody sitting in the complex, if you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me one material, meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done besides, Well, I guess it’s not as bad as the Democrats.”