569 House-passed bills await action in the Senate

569 House-passed bills await action in the Senate
© Greg Nash

The House has sent 768 bills to the Senate this Congress, and 569 of them have yet to pass the upper chamber.

The numbers, compiled by Quorum, a Washington, D.C.-based legislative data analytics platform, have frustrated President TrumpDonald John TrumpShocking summit with Putin caps off Trump’s turbulent Europe trip GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit MORE and House Republicans. 

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In June of last year, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Trump stuns the world at Putin summit Former Trump aide says he canceled CNN appearance over 'atrocious' Helsinki coverage MORE (R-Wis.) said, “If we accomplish our campaign promises, it’ll be the most productive presidency and Congress in our lifetime.”

While the GOP passed a sweeping tax-cut bill, it has fallen short on repealing ObamaCare, reducing the deficit and releasing an infrastructure package. House Republicans have repeatedly pointed out that they passed a health-care bill, but the effort failed in the Senate. They also note that there are many other House-passed measures that the Senate could clear. 

Of the 569 pending bills, 404 have at least one co-sponsor from each party. The list includes bills such as the Music Modernization Act, which passed in a 415-0 vote, the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act, which passed 377-34, and a series of bills aimed at tackling the opioid crisis that received strong support from both sides of the aisle.

Still, it’s unlikely that many of the bills will clear the Senate this year. Any measure that doesn’t become law in the coming months will die at the end of the Congress and have to be reintroduced in 2019.

Despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki Overnight Defense: Washington reeling from Trump, Putin press conference Feehery: The long game MORE’s (R-Ky.) decision to cancel some of the August recess, the upper chamber’s focus is on approving Trump’s nominations. 

Senate GOP sources note the upper chamber faces a different set of obstacles than the House, with the majority of bills requiring a 60-vote threshold to pass. There are 51 Republicans now serving in the Senate. 

“The Senate works closely with the House on legislative priorities, including the three major bills that are going to Conference next week: The National Defense Authorization Act, the Farm Bill, and three appropriations bills,” McConnell deputy chief of staff Don Stewart told The Hill. “Many other House-passed bills are included as amendments to broader legislation, in coordination with our House colleagues. And, of course, Democrat obstruction in the Senate slows many of the House bills, but by coordinating with House colleagues, we are able to focus on priority legislation and get it to the President’s desk.”
House Republican leaders have acknowledged the difficulties their Senate counterparts face, but Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse GOP reverses, cancels vote on Dem bill to abolish ICE Pelosi: 'The Russians have something on the president' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump, Putin meet under cloud of Mueller’s Russia indictments MORE (R-Calif.) have expressed frustrations with the backlog of bills in the upper chamber.
“We have 500 bills that are sitting in the Senate that they haven’t taken up, and Democrats have what, had 100 cloture votes,” McCarthy said in June following McConnell’s announcement on the August recess.

He added, “So, I understand why the Senate needs to finish their work, but we’ve been doing our work.”
In 2014, when the Senate was controlled by Democrats, House Republicans regularly ripped the upper chamber for not tackling most of the bills they passed. But now it’s a bit more sensitive, as the Congress is run by Republicans and both GOP majorities are in jeopardy this fall. 

Some Republicans in the House blame McConnell and want him to scrap the legislative filibuster. Trump has pushed McConnell on a number of occasions to abolish the filibuster, but McConnell has countered that he disagrees and that the votes aren’t there to eliminate it. 

House Republican leaders, meanwhile, blame Democrats.  

“Republicans across the Capitol are working together to advance our shared agenda with President Trump to keep this economy growing and make our communities safer and more secure. But Democrats in both the House and Senate have chosen obstruction instead of progress by using any means necessary to slow work down,” McCarthy spokeswoman Erin Perrine told The Hill in a statement.
“This is especially true in the Senate. Even with that unprecedented obstruction, Republicans have delivered big victories with massive tax cuts, historic regulatory reform, and repealing the burdensome individual mandate.”

Even though the number of bills stalled in the upper chamber is higher than usual, a backlog of hundreds of bills isn’t out of the ordinary.

During the last Congress, roughly 400 House-passed bills failed to make it to then-President Obama’s desk.