Paul has become a surprising force in the Republican presidential race, promising to use “the bully pulpit of the presidency” to demand deep cutbacks across government. But Paul has had only limited success using his current pulpit — a seat in Congress — to rally lawmakers behind his ideas.
Of the 620 measures that Paul has sponsored, just four have made it to a vote on the House floor. Only that one has been signed into law.
House colleagues say the genial Paul has often shown little interest in the laborious one-on-one lobbying required to build a coalition behind his ideas. This year, for instance, Paul has sponsored 47 bills, including measures to withdraw from the United Nations, repeal the federal law banning guns in school zones and let private groups coin their own money.
None has moved, and 32 have failed to attract a single co-sponsor.
“He’s somewhat of an introvert [and] a little quirky, so he doesn’t work the legislative process like most do,” said former congressman Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), who served with Paul from 1997 to 2010. But Wamp said Paul, as president, might succeed where Paul the legislator had not.
“When you’re president, they can’t just ignore you,” Wamp said. “Because you have a mandate.”
Rejection as a constant
In Congress, failure is often the norm: Many legislators file bills only to please some hometown constituency or to publicize their ideas. Most bills go nowhere, especially if their sponsor is not a powerful committee or subcommittee boss.
The other current legislator in the GOP race, Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), has introduced 45 bills in her five-year-old career without one passing both houses.
During Paul’s years in office, only 4 percent of the more than 69,000 bills filed by House members have become law.
But Paul’s record stands out for its futility. His lifetime success rate: about 0.2 percent.
“This is an indication of Ron’s strength of leadership. He has had the courage to stand alone and to fight for principle, ignoring the pressure to sell out,” Jesse Benton, Paul’s campaign chairman, said in a written statement. Benton said these failures were not proof that Paul, as president, would struggle to get his ideas passed through Congress.
“Now, the American people are demanding his principled Constitutionalism that will bring together broad coalitions from across party lines,” Benton said.
Paul, 76, has served three stints in Congress, covering 11 terms and part of another. His first bill was introduced just 11 days after he arrived on Capitol Hill in 1976. It would have repealed the law that had created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration six years earlier. It didn’t get out of committee.
In the terms that followed, Paul sponsored legislation to abolish the Education Department. He sought to repeal the income tax. He wanted to limit the census to just three questions: name, address and number of people in a household.