President Donald Trump made this claim that he’s enacted more legislation than any other president at a West Palm Beach, Fla., fire station.
This was a variation on an earlier, Mostly True assertion by his former press secretary Sean Spicer that Trump has “worked with Congress to pass more legislation in his first 100 days than any president since Truman.”
Eight months have passed since we rated Spicer’s statement. The boast’s accuracy has declined with time — big time.
According to calculations by govtrack.us, a nonpartisan website that collects congressional and other governmental data, Trump ranked last in legislation signed among post-World War II presidents in their first calendar year who took office on the regular four-year cycle (as opposed to those who were elevated to the presidency after a death or resignation).
In a report published on Dec. 21, 2017, govtrack.us wrote that “Trump has sunk to last place with 94 bills signed into law by his 336th day in office (today). That’s eight fewer than President George W. Bush and not even half as many as presidents Bill Clinton (209) and George H.W. Bush (242).”
Trump signed two bills the day after the report was released, including a major tax bill, but that wouldn’t be enough for him to catch up to George W. Bush. Through Dec. 28, Trump had signed 96 and the younger Bush had signed 109, Joshua Tauberer, the founder of Govtrack.us, told PolitiFact.
Tauberer added that Truman signed at least 126 laws in his first 100 days, so his number for the full year would be far above Trump’s current 96.
Trump’s statement from West Palm Beach “is wrong no matter how you try to repair it,” Tauberer said.
The report added that Trump “has not held the title of signing the most new legislation since his 101st day” and has been in the bottom half for most of his presidency.
It’s also worth noting that not all legislation is of equal importance. On the one hand, Trump has signed the tax overhaul, a bill of major consequence. And on several occasions, Trump has used the Congressional Review Act — a previously little-used power that makes it easier for Congress and the president to overturn federal regulations.
But the numbers — for all presidents, not just Trump — are padded by less significant bills.
Some of the ones Trump has signed have been federal spending bills of the sort required periodically of every president and Congress to keep the government running. Others have been substantive but of limited effect, such as a bill overhauling government-employee travel policy or a measure addressing Department of Homeland Security vehicle fleets. Still others have been ceremonial in nature, such the official naming of a federal courthouse in Tennessee or a commemorative coin for the American Legion.
It’s also noteworthy that Trump has been working with a Congress controlled by his own party, an asset that only some of his predecessors have had at the beginning of their tenure.
The White House did not respond to an inquiry for this article.
In his first 100 days, Trump had signed the most bills of any president since Truman. Since then, however, he has fallen further and further behind. Just days before the end of his first calendar year in office, Trump ranks last among the 10 post-war presidents who began their term on the regular cycle.
We rate the statement False.
Presidents’ bill signing
Here are the numbers of bills presidents signed in their first year in office and the number of pages in that legislation. They are listed in order from the most to the fewest bills signed. Harry Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Gerald Ford aren’t included because they started in the middle of a congressional session and completed their first calendar year in office with much shorter tenures in the White House.
John F. Kennedy: 684 billsl, 1,404 pages
Dwight Eisenhower: 514 bills, 1,107 pages
George H.W. Bush: 242 bills, 2,518 pages
Jimmy Carter: 241 bills, 1,595 pages
Richard M. Nixon: 211 bills, 545 pages
Bill Clinton: 209 bills, 2,556 pages
Barack Obama: 118 bills, 3,473 paces
Ronald Reagan: 108 bills, 1,223 pages
George W. Bush: 102 bills, 981 pages
Donald Trump: 94 bills, 2,038 pages
Source: govtrack.us, a nonpartisan website that collects congressional and other governmental data
“We have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record of Harry Truman.”
— President Donald Trump on Wednesday, December 27th, 2017 in an event in West Palm Beach