Vulnerable House freshmen passed most bills in decades, analysis finds

Three House Republicans facing competitive reelection races this year have gotten more of their bills passed than any other freshmen in decades, according to a new analysis.

Quorum, a D.C.-based data tracking firm, found that of all freshman lawmakers since 1989, Reps. John Katko (N.Y.), Martha McSally (Ariz.) and Will Hurd (Texas) were the top three for sponsoring the most bills that passed the House in their first terms.

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Katko’s name was featured on 13 bills to pass the House in his first 20 months in office, the highest of any freshman lawmaker in Quorum’s analysis provided to The Hill.

McSally came in second with nine sponsored bills. Two of those measures became law, most prominently a bill to make former female World War II pilots eligible for inurnment at Arlington Cemetery. 

Hurd, with eight bills to pass the House, is tied for the third-most bills with former Reps. Bobby Jindal (R), the ex-Louisiana governor, in the session of Congress that began in 2005, and Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) for the session that began in 2003.

House and Senate leadership frequently grant floor time to legislation authored by lawmakers in tough races for reelection. Those lawmakers can then tout the passage of those bills while campaigning back in their districts.

In the Senate, for example, Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanLongtime tax aide leaving Senate Finance Committee Ex-McConnell policy aide joining lobby firm WATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  MORE (R-Ohio), who’s up for reelection in a critical swing state, was the author of major legislation approved earlier this year to combat the opioid epidemic.

Hurd is considered the most vulnerable of the three House lawmakers. He faces a rematch against former Democratic Rep. Pete GallegoPete Pena GallegoIraq War vet wins Texas Dem runoff Texas Democrats smell blood in the water for 2018 ObamaCare repeal vote: 15 GOP lawmakers to watch MORE in the southwestern, Hispanic-majority Texas district that the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates as a “toss-up.”

Katko and McSally both hold an edge to win reelection despite representing districts that have swung toward Democrats in recent years.

One reason these freshmen have managed to get more of their bills passed may be a result of House GOP leaders granting them all subcommittee chairmanships at the start of this Congress. 

Many of Hurd’s bills that made it to the House floor have dealt with information technology and cybersecurity, likely because of chairing a House Oversight subcommittee on information technology.

McSally, meanwhile, chairs the House Homeland Security panel’s subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, which has helped boost her credentials representing a southeastern Arizona district that includes part of the Mexican border. Most of her bills that passed the House are related to enhancing border security.

Similarly, GOP leaders gave Katko the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security panel’s subcommittee on transportation security. Many of the bills bearing Katko’s name likewise deal with issues in his subcommittee’s jurisdiction.

GOP leaders promoted McSally and Hurd, in particular, as two of their best recruits during the 2014 election cycle. Both lawmakers add racial and gender diversity to the overwhelmingly white and male House GOP: Hurd is one of two African-Americans and McSally is one of 23 women in the 246-member conference.

The two also sported unique public service backgrounds before winning election to Congress. McSally was the first female U.S. fighter pilot to fly in combat, while Hurd served as an undercover CIA officer in the Middle East and South Asia before working for a cybersecurity firm.