Congressional Statistics: Bills Introduced and Laws Enacted, 1947-2004

Order Code 96-727 C Updated January 13, 2005 CRS Report for Congress Received through the CRS Web Congressional Statistics: Bills Introduced and Laws Enacted, 1947-2004 Jennifer E. Manning Information Research Specialist Information Research Division Summary The Congressional Research Service receives many requests for statistics on the numbers of bills introduced and the numbers of laws enacted in each Congress. Although this information is available in several sources, it is nowhere set out in a simple table. It is generally included in tables with many other indicators of congressional activity. This report is designed to fill the need for a simple tabulation of legislative workload. It provides the numbers of bills and joint resolutions introduced, and the numbers of public and private laws enacted, from the 80th Congress through the 108th Congress (1947-2004). This report contains historical data and will not be updated. For more recent statistics on bills and joint resolutions and laws enacted, consult the “Bill Lists” tables in the Legislative Information System (LIS) Bill Summary and Status Files at [http://www.congress.gov/billsumm/lists.html]. The Statistics These numbers on bills introduced and laws enacted should not be interpreted as the only, or the most important, measures of congressional workload and activity. Other indicators are data on investigations, confirmations, days in session, hearings, casework, omnibus legislation, etc. For statistics on record floor votes, see CRS Report RL30562, Congressional Roll Call and Other Record Votes: First Congress through 108th Congress, 1789 Through 2004. For statistics on the whole range of quantitative indicators, see Vital Statistics on Congress, 2001-2002, by Norman J. Ornstein, Thomas E. Mann, and Michael J. Malbin (Washington: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 2002). Other indicators for the 80th Congress (1947-1948) to the present are available on the Internet in the Résumés of Congressional Activity section on the Senate’s public website at [http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/two_column_table/ Resumes.htm]. Comparable compilations of statistics for the first through the 79th Congresses, before legislative activity began to be quantified in the “Daily Digest” section of the Congressional Record, are extremely difficult to come by. Some researchers have pulled Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress CRS-2 together figures on measures introduced for a few scattered, selected years, but they do not all use the same definition of “measures.” So, the resulting figures cannot be compared accurately. Compilations exist of earlier statistics on the numbers of laws enacted, covering both the pre- and post-80th Congresses. However, the same problems of differing inclusions and exclusions in the figures used apply to these, as well. Consequently, there will be some differences between figures in those compilations and in the table given here. In the following table, two things stand out: a steady decline since the mid-1970s in the number of bills and joint resolutions introduced and a drastic decline in recent years in the number of private laws enacted. An important reason for the former is changes in the rules of the House of Representatives on bill sponsorship. The number of cosponsors allowed on an individual bill was once severely restricted, often causing many different Members to introduce identical versions of popular proposals. Beginning in 1967, up to 25 cosponsors were allowed on a bill, and in 1979, the House rules were amended to permit unlimited numbers of cosponsors. The decline in the number of private bills and laws cannot be traced to a specific rule change. Private bills deal with one or more named individuals or entities. In the 20th century, most private bills concerned immigration cases or private claims. Over the years, Congress has delegated more of its authority on individual immigration matters and private claims to the executive branch, so the number of private bills and laws has declined dramatically. Table 1. Selected Legislative Statistics Congress Bills & Joint Resolutions Introduceda Laws Enacted Total House Senate Public Private 80 (1947-1948) 10,797 7,611 3,186 906 458 81st (1949-1950) 14,988 10,502 4,486 921 1,103 (1951-1952) 12,730 9,065 3,665 594 1,023 83rd (1953-1954) 14,952 10,875 4,077 781 1,002 84th (1955-1956) 17,687 13,169 4,518 1,028 893 (1957-1958) 19,112 14,580 4,532 936 784 86 (1959-1960) 18,261 14,112 4,149 800 492 87th (1961-1962) th nd 82 th 85 th 18,376 14,328 4,048 885 684 th 17,479 14,022 3,457 666 360 th 89 (1965-1966) 24,003 19,874 4,129 810 473 90th (1967-1968) 26,460 22,060 4,400 640 362 91st (1969-1970) 26,303 21,436 4,867 695 246 (1971-1972) 22,969 18,561 4,408 607 161 93rd (1973-1974) 23,396 18,872 4,524 649 123 88 (1963-1964) nd 92 CRS-3 Congress Bills & Joint Resolutions Introduceda Laws Enacted Total House Senate Public Private 21,096 16,982 4,114 588 141 95 (1977-1978) 19,387 15,587 3,800 634 170 96th (1979-1980) 12,583 9,103 3,480 613 123 97th (1981-1982) 11,490 8,094 3,396 473 56 98 (1983-1984) 10,559 7,105 3,454 623 52 99th (1985-1986) 9,885 6,499 3,386 664 24 100th (1987-1988) 9,588 6,263 3,325 713 48 101 (1989-1990) 10,352 6,683 3,669 650 16 102nd (1991-1992) 10,513 6,775 3,738 590 20 103rd (1993-1994) 8,544 5,739 2,805 465 8 (1995-1996) 6,808 4,542 2,266 333 4 105th (1997-1998) 7,730 5,012 2,718 394 10 1st session 4,801 3,194 1,607 153 4 2nd session 2,929 1,818 1,111 241 6 9,158 5,815 3,343 580 24 1st session 5,636 3,602 2,034 170 3 2nd session 3,522 2,213 1,309 410 21 9,130 5,892 3,238 377 6 1st session 5,603 3,691 1,912 136 1 2nd session 3,527 2,201 1,326 241 5 8,621 5,544 3,077 498 6 5,812 3,783 2,029 198 0 2,809 1,761 1,048 300 6 94th (1975-1976) th th st 104 th th 106 (1999-2000) th 107 (2001-2002) 108th (2003-2004)b 1st session 2nd session Source: House bills and resolutions from archived CRS Report 93-707, Indicators of House of Representatives Workload and Activity, p. 15 (no longer available), the Legislative Information System website, and the final “Daily Digests” for the 103rd through 108th Congresses. Senate bills and resolutions from archived CRS Report 93-789, Workload and Activity Report: United States Senate, 1946-1992, p. 12 (no longer available), the Legislative Information System website, and the final “Daily Digests” for the 103rd through 108th Congresses. Public laws from archived CRS Report 93-789, p. 15 (no longer available), the Legislative Information System website, and the final “Daily Digests” for the 103rd through 108th Congresses. a. Includes only bills and joint resolutions. Simple and concurrent resolutions, which do not have the force of law when enacted, are not included in these figures. b. 108th Congress bill statistics do not include H.R. 3 and H.R. 9 — these bill numbers were reserved by the House leadership but never actually introduced.