The Democratic senate primary race between Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson will likely be colored as a moderate versus progressive matchup, but Grayson is already trying to frame it more as effective congressman versus do-nothing congressman. Grayson certainly got some help in the category last week from congressional tracking website Inside Gov. They named Murphy as one of the least-effective members of congress. In fact, he placed 21st on the list.
To come up with the rankings, Inside Gov didn't consider the number of bills a representative sponsored that were turned into law since so few bills actually go on to be law, but rather the percentage of bills sponsored that even went on to pass a single committee. Bills from the current session of congress weren't considered since they can still become law, so Murphy's ranking is based on his first term.
Turns out during that time he sponsored 29 total bills and had exactly zero passed by committee.
In comparison, Grayson introduced 96 bills during that term and had two that were passed out of committee.
Grayson, however, is something of a legislation-writing matching. He introduced more bills during that term than any other member of congress, and that's a fact he likes to trump.
"In the past two years in Congress, I’ve written more bills, passed more amendments on the floor of the House and enacted more of my bills into law than any other member of the House — No. 1 out of 435 of us,," he said during his campaign announcement video last month.
Politifact rated that claim true, but added quite a few caveats.
"As we have noted before, the number of bills sponsored by a member doesn’t tell the full story about any member’s legislative accomplishments," wrote the site. "They can also influence legislation in other ways, such as writing language that gets included in a separate bill, co-sponsoring bills, holding hearings and negotiating agreements."
They noted that while none of Grayson's bills actually became law, 10 did go on to become part of other larger bills that were passed.
GovTrack.com also offers different takes on Grayson and Murphy's effectiveness during the term.
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Grayson was particularly bad about getting Republicans to co-sponsor his legislation, with only a single of his bills getting any Republican support. In fact, Grayson was particularly bad about attracting many co-sponsors at all. Zero of Grayson's bills had a companion in the Senate.
In contrast, Murphy was ranked better about working with the Senate, and attracting co-sponsors, especially bipartisan co-sponsors. Which does bring us back to the idea that this is a fight between a moderate and a liberal after all.
Update: Murphy's campaign sent New Times a statement calling the basis of the In Gov study into question. Here's the statement in full:
The deeply flawed study by InsideGov could not be more inaccurate and misleading. Patrick Murphy has passed numerous bills and amendments, including legislation to fund protections for Florida's environment, cut billions in wasteful spending, and improve transparency in student loans. InsideGov has irresponsibly ignored this good work Patrick has accomplished for his district and Florida.
While InsideGov bizarrely claims to have examined bills approved by committee, Patrick has actually had several bills approved by committee.