Ron Paul’s House record marked by bold strokes, and futility

From WashingtonPost.com, By , December 26, 2011 –
The passage of H.R. 2121, in fall 2009, unfolded without drama. It allowed for the sale of a customhouse in Galveston, Tex. The House debate took two minutes, and the vote took eight seconds. The ayes had it. But something historic was happening. On his 482nd try, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) had authored a bill that would become law.

Paul has become a surprising force in the Republican presidential race, promising to use “the bully pulpit of the presidency” to demand deep cutbacks across government. But Paul has had only limited success using his current pulpit — a seat in Congress — to rally lawmakers behind his ideas.

Of the 620 measures that Paul has sponsored, just four have made it to a vote on the House floor. Only that one has been signed into law.

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House colleagues say the genial Paul has often shown little interest in the laborious one-on-one lobbying required to build a coalition behind his ideas. This year, for instance, Paul has sponsored 47 bills, including measures to withdraw from the United Nations, repeal the federal law banning guns in school zones and let private groups coin their own money.

None has moved, and 32 have failed to attract a single co-sponsor.

“He’s somewhat of an introvert [and] a little quirky, so he doesn’t work the legislative process like most do,” said former congressman Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), who served with Paul from 1997 to 2010. But Wamp said Paul, as president, might succeed where Paul the legislator had not.

“When you’re president, they can’t just ignore you,” Wamp said. “Because you have a mandate.”

Rejection as a constant

In Congress, failure is often the norm: Many legislators file bills only to please some hometown constituency or to publicize their ideas. Most bills go nowhere, especially if their sponsor is not a powerful committee or subcommittee boss.

The other current legislator in the GOP race, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), has introduced 45 bills in her five-year-old career without one passing both houses.

During Paul’s years in office, only 4 percent of the more than 69,000 bills filed by House members have become law.

But Paul’s record stands out for its futility. His lifetime success rate: about 0.2 percent.

“This is an indication of Ron’s strength of leadership. He has had the courage to stand alone and to fight for principle, ignoring the pressure to sell out,” Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign chairman, said in a written statement. Benton said these failures were not proof that Paul, as president, would struggle to get his ideas passed through Congress.

“Now, the American people are demanding his principled Constitutionalism that will bring together broad coalitions from across party lines,” Benton said.

Paul, 76, has served three stints in Congress, covering 11 terms and part of another. His first bill was introduced just 11 days after he arrived on Capitol Hill in 1976. It would have repealed the law that had created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration six years earlier. It didn’t get out of committee.

In the terms that followed, Paul sponsored legislation to abolish the Education Department. He sought to repeal the income tax. He wanted to limit the census to just three questions: name, address and number of people in a household.

These measures also got little traction. The only time Paul got a full House vote for one of his sweeping ideas was in 2001, when he proposed to withdraw from the agreement that created the World Trade Organization. The House voted it down, 363 to 56.

Instead, his success came mainly on small-scale resolutions for Texas causes. In 2006, Paul authored a resolution congratulating NASA on a shuttle flight; it passed both houses unanimously. And in 2009, Paul wrote the bill that sold the Galveston Custom House to a local historical society for use as its headquarters.

Paul’s campaign says its candidate has also won legislative victories by amending bills written by others.

During the fight over the Dodd-Frank financial regulation in 2010, for instance, Paul won a partial victory: A provision was included to require a limited audit of the Federal Reserve’s transactions. The audit was still not as broad as Paul had long insisted.

Benton said that, in that case, Paul had marshaled more than 300 lawmakers behind his idea. “He had some of the most progressive Democrats to some of the most conservative Republicans on the same bill,” Benton said.

But Paul’s House colleagues say they have rarely seen him put forth the kind of sustained lobbying effort necessary to get a big idea passed into law.

Paul “has his ideas and puts them out there. And if people want to get on them, they can,” said Rep. Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.). “But I don’t necessarily think that he goes out and works — lobbies for them — like some of the younger guys.”

A quiet approach

For most members of Congress, passing a bill starts with one-on-one lobbying: They look within their party, or their state’s delegation, to build up a large number of co-sponsors. Then a member ­lobbies the relevant committee chairman to take up the bill, using those co-sponsorships as proof of support.

Other Republicans said Paul takes a more low-key approach. He will seek out a small circle of lawmakers who have supported him on previous issues, and he will let potential allies come to him.

“He has a particular spot on the floor: about four rows up on the middle aisle,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). If you want to be lobbied, Chaffetz said, you walk by, and “he’ll say, ‘Hey, Jason, I want you to look at this.’ ”

That approach has paid limited dividends, even in the current Congress, which is controlled by Paul’s fellow Republicans. Among his 47 new bills, Paul has attracted a very large number of co-sponsors for only one, which demands a full audit of the Fed. It remains bottled up in committee.

His other bills are as ambitious as ever. In H.R. 1098, Paul proposes allowing private groups to coin their own money to circulate alongside dollars and cents. Some libertarian groups like the idea, saying that the new money could be useful if the dollar loses value through inflation.

Other experts have their doubts. “We’d have to spend probably the first four hours of every day trying to figure out which currency to use today,” said James Livingston, a professor at Rutgers University who studies economic history.

Paul has attracted no co-sponsors for that bill, and he doesn’t appear to be pulling out all the stops to find some. The Congressional Record contains a March 15 speech from Paul: “I urge my colleagues to consider the redevelopment of a system of competing currencies.”

But the speech is a common congressional illusion: Paul didn’t give it aloud to his colleagues. Instead, he simply wrote it and had it inserted into the record later.

16 responses

  1. Even if by some bizarre turn of events, Ron Paul became President of the United States, what rational thinking person would expect him to get any cooperation from the House and Senate with his thoroughly documented record of failure?

    “The only thing he has been successful at in Congress, is failure!”

  2. Senator-Blutarksy

    Mark

    “if by some bizarre turn of events” RP did get in the White House, do you think the same masses who got him there would tolerate the same Congressional response?

    How naive~…typical RepubliCON pretzel logic

  3. “The passage of H.R. 2121, in fall 2009, unfolded without drama. It allowed for the sale of a customhouse in Galveston, Tex. The House debate took two minutes, and the vote took eight seconds. The ayes had it. But something historic was happening. On his 482nd try, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) had authored a bill that would become law.”

    “….and when he was serving in the U.S. Air Force, everyone was out of step but him – right”

    Senator, are you going to respond the way most RP sheep do by attacking the messenger instead of acknowledging the validity of the message? When you cannot prove the message false, attack the messenger – right?

    1. Senator-Blutarsky

      Mark – I merely pointed out your total collapse of logic – you proposed a hypothesis wherein RP gets the office of POTUS.

      Even basic assumptions would have to come in to play- ie, the American people were distressed with the globalist one-party (2wing) system, and would have clearly announced an en masse` rejection of the global socialism.

      I hope this doesnt stress you, but most logical people would assume that Congress would get a HUGE message, and would cooperate in many abrupt changes, after hearing the people speak so loudly. Or as Sen Dirksen said years ago ” when I feel the heat, i see the light…”.

      Worry not – RP will not get the nomination. The dumbed-down american voting sheep will get what they deserve, and it will be yet another globalist.

      “Most men do not desire liberty; most only wish for a just master.”
      Sallust (86-34BC)

      1. I hope this doesn’t stress you, but most American people ARE NOT logical thinkers! They too are sheep listening for a “bell sheep”.

        The “dumbed-down American voting sheep” to which you refer may not be logical thinkers, but they are not stupid enough to waste their vote on someone as ineffective as Ron Paul has been for the last 20 + years.

        We “dumbed-down American voting sheep” are wise enough to know we can best judge potential for future performance by examining a candidate’s past record of success and failure. We clearly see Ron Paul’s lengthy record of failures. Unfortunately, a record of successes is nonexistent.

        Once again, instead of trying to refute the facts in the author’s column, you launch an attack on those you consider to be “dumbed-down American voting sheep”.

        A more pompous and elitist attitude I have yet to encounter!

  4. Mark,
    Are you happy with the the performance of congress? Are you happy with the Bills that have passed? You like Obama Care? You like “No Child Left Behind”? The list goes on and on and on! Dr. Paul could have EASILY passed more bills…the golden rule of congress…MAKE IT UN-CONSTITUTIONAL and they’ll vote for it. Stop and think about your personal bell-weather for a moment, your measuring a candidates ability to be a good president by how well they pass bills through the den of vipers?
    Mark, I would like to assume for a moment, that you honor the Constitution, you want CHANGE (not Obama change) and if you were elected to Congress, you would NEVER file an un-Constitutional bill? Please tell me what you percentage would be with that type of strict Constitutional backbone? 0.2 Perhaps?
    We have been asking for Bi-Partisanship for a long time…I feel, that is playing into their hands and the destruction of the Constitution. Bipartisianship is a fraud. Follow the Constitution, Never waiver, Never comprimise if it means comprimising our Founders ideals, NEVER violate the Constitution. Did you read some of the bills he tries to pass every single year??? Get out of the UN (it failed)…you like the UN Mark? End the Fed (it failed)…you like the Fed Mark? No war without congressional approval (it failed)…you like un-Constitutional war Mark? Withdrawl from the World Trade Organization (it failed)…you like the WTO Mark?
    Think about what he’s trying (and failing) to do? Correct the wrongs, stick to the Constitution…the same things you would do if you were elected (you would fail then too).

    1. Joshua,
      I do not disagree with anything you have said, and I agree with most of Ron Paul’s positions. However, it is my humble opinion that the road back to the Constitution will be a long and winding road. I wish we could elect the ‘perfect president’ and the den of vipers to which you refer would suddenly start thinking Constitutionally and cooperate fully with the perfect president – it ain’t gonna happen!

      The road back to the Constitution will be filled with mine fields and ambushes. The enemy that is responsible for the mine fields and the ambushes has been at war with the Constitution longer than we have been alive and he will continue his incremental socialist rampage far into an uncertain future.

      I believe we have a common desire for a return to the Constitution. If we disagree, I believe it is only with the manner in which we accomplish our objective. I see a protracted war consisting of a series of battles waged by a cunning often stealthy socialist movement that has crept into almost every segment of our society.

      We would not enter into a military campaign by choosing a General with a 20+ year record of defeats. Why would we wage this war against socialism by turning over command to a loser?

      1. Senator-Blutarsky

        Mark “A more pompous and elitist attitude I have yet to encounter!”

        Maybe you have a point mark…………maybe I give the american voters too much credit by calling them dumbed-down sheep. Maybe they are active socialists, and not dumb at all.

        Maybe they willing voted form socialist Open-Border-Amnesty champion Mccain because they actually supported his campaign, and Mccains legacy of endorsing all the rampant socialism of the previous 8 Bush-era gangsters.

        My bad – american voters are NOT dumb sheep – I am left to assume they are socialists, by whom they support, donate, and endorse

      2. Senator-Blutarsky

        Mark………….let me tell you a football story.

        One of the very best quarterbacks I ever watched was Archie Manning of the New Orleans Saints, back in the ’70s. A tremendous, passer, deft runner, clever play-caller, tough, resilient………..a winner in every way.

        Except on the scoreboard.

        While Manning was QB there, the teams were awful. Archie had a last-place bunch of teammates, not All-Pros. Archie could almost do it himself, but he needed some better blockers, better receivers, better running backs, and a defense that would keep a game in reach.

        Archie never had that while an NFL QB.

        Sometimes, one cant count on much help, when surrounded by a lousy bunch of teammates. It made Archie no less a “winner” and in peers observations, the consummate professional. One can only wonder how many championship rings he might have, given a decent team.

        Be careful about tossing around the term “loser”.

        BTW, mark – who are the “winners” in Congress? those who authored the Patriot Act? the TARP bailouts? Medicare Prescription Plan(Obamacare 1 ), those who passed NAFTA, GATT, WTO?……….I guess those are YOUR “winners”, huh ?

  5. Once again – again, instead of trying to refute the facts in the author’s column, you launch an attack on those you consider to be “dumbed-down American voting sheep”.

    1. Senator-Blutarsky

      Be careful about tossing around the term “loser”.

      BTW, mark – who are the “winners” in Congress? those who authored the Patriot Act? the TARP bailouts? Medicare Prescription Plan(Obamacare 1 ), those who passed NAFTA, GATT, WTO?……….I guess those are YOUR “winners”, huh ?

      who are WINNERS mark ?

      1. I suppose in one sense we are all losers! We didn’t do enough to avoid the situation we find ourselves in.

      2. Once again – again, instead of trying to refute the facts in the author’s column, you launch an attack on those you consider to be “dumbed-down American voting sheep”.

        Oh yes – Senator, we’ve seen 20+ years of your WINNER – no thanks, I think I’ll pass (no football pun intended).

    2. Senator-Blutarsky

      Mark

      how slow are you, son ? I responded to both you and the mindless writer by challenging your incorrect use of what defines a “loser” quite clearly.

      You seem adept at dodging my question back to you in defining “winners” – The cats who passed GATT NAFTA WTO? – are your proud of them? For the NDAA, Patriot Act, Warner Defense Act, telComm Immunity bill – those “passed” – do your RepubliCON heroes who voted for them and passed them get classified as “winners” because they passed?

      What is a “winner” , mark? It is becoming obvious that you do not know, and are evading answering my very pointed, direct, clear and unambiguous question to you.

      We cant define loser or winner until we establish that, capiche`?

      1. So typical and predictable.
        In trying to defend Ron Paul’s indefensible lack of success, all that is left is to attack Paul’s colleagues and “the mindless writer”(attacking the messenger again). Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results – how’s that working out for you Hmmm?

        I’m outta here! No reason to ponder any more of this …. intellectual discourse.

  6. Marky Mark…o boy…you feel so attacked….
    I hope you did leave, you were intellectually outsted by this man. He dismantled your feel good story with his first paragraph. Noone is pretending Dr. Paul was able to accomplish alot during his many years in the house. But he stood firm on his beliefs the entire time, never changed his mind about liberty and what it is supposed to be, and now he has probably 20% of the nation ready to write his name in on the ballot (that he’s not on) with only his message..He may not be voted in, but he has left an imprint on many of us and there is now a hope for the future of this country that people with your type of mindset may not ever understand. Good day!

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