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Fact Check: Trump Wrong About Legislative Record

| by Robert Fowler
President Donald Trump in the Oval OfficePresident Donald Trump in the Oval Office

President Donald Trump has claimed that he has signed more pieces of legislation into law during his first six months in office than any of his predecessors, but his assertion is demonstrably false.

On July 17, Trump touted the number of bills he had signed into law during a White House ceremony celebrating American-made products.

"In just a few months and moments, I will say that what we've done over a short period of time and what we're going to be doing over the next six months will be incredible," Trump said. "We've signed more bills -- and I'm talking about through the legislature -- than any president ever."

The president added: "For a while, Harry Truman had us, and now I think we have everybody ... I better say 'think,' otherwise they'll give me a Pinocchio ... I don't like Pinocchios."

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Trump was wise to moderate his statement, because fact-checkers were quick to correct him. At least six other presidents signed more pieces of legislation into law during their first six months in office, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact reports.

When Trump made his assertion, he was 178 days into his first term. During that same time frame, former President Dwight Eisenhower signed 228 bills into law. Former President John F. Kennedy signed 200 bills.

Eisenhower and Kennedy are far ahead of the pack when it comes to legislation signed during the first six months of a presidency. Former President Jimmy Carter came in third with 70 bills, former President Richard Nixon signed 64, former President George H.W. Bush signed 55, and former President Bill Clinton signed 50 pieces of legislation into law.

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Meanwhile, Trump has signed 42 bills into law after 178 days in office.

April 29 marked Trump's 100th day in office. The president had signed 28 bills into law by then. The only president to sign more legislation into law after 100 days in office was former President Harry Truman, who had signed 55 bills.

On June 23, Trump made a similar assertion during a signing ceremony, saying that he had been more productive than any of his predecessors.

"I think probably seldom has any president and administration done more or had more success so early on, including a record number of resolutions to eliminate job-killing regulations," Trump stated.

Trump was incorrect based on just raw numbers. Carter, George H.W. Bush and Clinton had all signed more bills by that point in their presidencies. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Trump's bills signed into law were not new policies, according to NPR.

By that point, Trump had signed 39 bills. Of those, 15 repealed Obama administration rules and regulations, six modified existing programs, five were suggestions to agencies, five were ceremonial, five related to federal personnel, two extended Obama administration policies, and one kept the government funded while Congress negotiated an omnibus spending bill.

The only new policy that Trump has signed into law was the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Act, which made it easier to fire Veterans Affairs employees. The legislation also added protections for whistleblowers in the agency.

During Trump's first six months in office, the GOP majority in Congress has spent the bulk of its efforts attempting to repeal and replace the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act. Senate Republican leaders' efforts to bring their Better Care Reconciliation Act to a vote sputtered to a halt in early July amid wavering GOP support.

Greg Valliere, chief strategist of Horizon Investments, asserted that Trump made a tactical mistake by making health care his key legislative priority right out of the gate.

On July 18, Valliere wrote a note to his clients asserting that it would be a huge setback for Trump if GOP lawmakers were unable to reach a consensus on health care, Business Insider reports.

"It's an understatement that Donald Trump badly miscalculated on his legislative agenda; moving first on Obamacare repeal and replacement was a disastrous -- and hubristic -- decision," Valliere wrote.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins also expressed frustration with the Trump administration's legislative priorities. The Maine lawmaker said: "It would have been better had the president started with infrastructure, which has bipartisan support, rather than tackling a political divisive and technically complicated issue like health care."

Sources: Business InsiderNPRPolitiFact / Photo Credit: Sean Spicer/Wikimedia Commons, Office of the President of the United States/Wikimedia Commons, Repmobrooks/Flickr

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