The bills that Jim Jordan did want to pass
On Monday, The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reported on Rep. Jim Jordan’s “remarkably thin” record of legislation over the course of his career in Congress. Blake made the case convincingly; Jordan (R-Ohio) has never had a bill signed into law, much less passed in the House. His record is paltry even by the standards of the modern House of Representatives.
As Jordan stands on the brink of being elected speaker, though, it’s worth considering another angle on the question: the bills that Jordan did introduce, and how they track with his and his party’s evolution from spending battles to the whims of Donald Trump.
Jordan was elected to Congress in 2006, defying the Democratic wave that year. That election was defined in part by a series of scandals involving high-profile legislators, including Republican House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Tex.). So the first bill that Jordan introduced in the 110th Congress was H.R. 2438, focused, among other things, on increasing the penalties for public corruption.
It earned only three co-sponsors. When he introduced it in the next Congress, it received only one.
Jordan introduced five other bills in the 110th Congress, including two focused on government spending by way of demanding a review of federal programs and agencies. (He would then introduce those same bills in the 111th Congress.) He also introduced a bill requiring that those seeking abortion see an ultrasound prior to having the procedure, a bill he would in each of the two following congresses, too.
The other two bills he introduced in his first Congress were different. One was a resolution expressing the House’s sympathy for flooding in his state; it was agreed to without a voice vote. The other was an outlier in Jordan’s career, a specific bit of legislation aimed at suspending the import duty “on certain laundry work surfaces.” Its proponents included Whirlpool, which has a corporate footprint in Jordan’s northwest Ohio district.
In the 111th Congress, Jordan introduced new bills focused on government spending in addition to the two carried over from the 110th Congress. He also picked up two other popular issues on the right: a proposal to end capital gains taxes and one formally defining marriage in D.C. as being between “one man and one woman.” In the 113th and 114th Congresses, Jordan would again leverage the federal government’s control over the District to introduce new legislation, in both cases aimed at loosening gun laws in D.C.
In the 112th Congress, the first after the 2010 election that returned Republicans to the majority, Jordan added a new area of focus: adding work requirements to and limiting the benefits provided under welfare programs. He would introduce similar legislation through the 115th Congress.
By the time the 113th Congress began in 2013, Jordan had largely shifted away from spending as a focus of his introduced bills toward issues popular in conservative media. His opposition to abortion shift from ultrasounds to a call for recognizing life as beginning at conception, allowing fetuses 14th Amendment protections. It was also in this Congress that his focus on D.C. turned to the Second Amendment.
He also introduced a resolution that called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel to investigate how the IRS was considering nonprofit applications of conservative groups — a hot-button issue on Fox News at the time. It was agreed to without a vote.
Another proposed bill now carries some irony. In the 113th Congress, Jordan introduced a bill that would mandate that a contempt of Congress finding by the House or Senate result in the formation of a grand jury within 30 days. Jordan was himself last year referred to the House Ethics Committee by the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for failure to respond to a subpoena — a referral that could have resulted in a contempt of Congress finding.
Donald Trump was elected president at the. tail end of the 114th Congress and served through the 116th. Jordan’s only introduced 10 bills since 2015, three of which focus on a key hobbyhorse of Trump and the online right: that social-media companies unfairly censor conservative voices. Two versions of this legislation focused on overhauling Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934; the most recent focuses on preventing federal employees from “directing online platforms to censor any speech that is protected by the First Amendment.”
In the 116th Congress, less than a week after Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, he introduced a resolution that would express the belief of the House that the court should have no more than nine members. Like one-fifth of his introduced legislation, it had no co-sponsors.
In the current, 118th Congress, Jordan introduced a resolution forming what he and his allies call the “Weaponization Committee,” a select committee focused on amplifying allegations that the government has been deployed unfairly against conservative voices. That resolution became his third to be enacted, again having been agreed to by the House.
And that is it. Thirty-six introduced bills or resolutions, three enacted. A shift from abortion and spending to a focus on the idea that conservative speech was being muffled. And now Jordan may well be elected as Speaker of the House.