On Friday, President Trump notched his first huge legislative victory by signing a major tax overhaul and he will definitely be able to ride on the winds of that legislation for a while.
The tax bill is a gargantuan piece of legislation that over half of the registered lobbyists in Washington worked on. It chipped away at Obamacare by repealing the individual mandate and cut taxes on corporations. But as GovTrack noted, Trump’s move to sign the legislation marked another milestone — he has now signed the fewest bills into law in any recent president’s first year.
On Friday morning, Trump tweeted a vague message, boasting that he broke President Truman’s record “on legislative approvals.” But it’s not entirely clear what he meant by that tweet.
The fact that he ranks at the bottom of the presidential pack in bills signed isn’t a slight against Trump, as GovTrack also notes. There are huge bills (like Obamacare and Trump’s tax cut) and there are plenty of inconsequential bills, renaming post offices and recognizing animals. In 2016, before Trump assumed office, a Texas congressman introduced a bill to recognize magic as a “national treasure.” If that bill had passed both the House and the Senate (it didn’t) and wound up on the president’s desk, it would still count as legislation passed under a commander-in-chief’s tenure.
But if Trump is measuring his legislative victory by the bulk of it, he can still chalk up a win — the bills that he’s passed have consisted of over 2,000 pages. That’s more than Bush’s page count, though still less than Obama’s.
Conservatives really might not be that upset by the low number of bills that the president has inked into law. A lot of legislation sets out rules and regulates industries; Trump promised to roll back regulations and his hands-off approach might count as a victory if he decides to look at it like that.