At a U.S. Senate debate with Linda Lingle last Thursday, Democratic candidate Mazie Hirono defended her legislative record in response to accusations that she hasn’t passed any bills in Congress.

The Democrat bolstered her argument with an attack on Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin representative who last month joined Mitt Romney on the Republican presidential ticket as the nominee for vice president.

“And, as a matter of fact, Paul Ryan has 14 years in Congress and has only passed two bills,” Hirono said. “One was to name a post office and the other was something to do with a tax on arrows, as in bow and arrows.”

Is that true?

Hirono’s comment was in direct response to a Lingle commercial that accuses her of being ineffective.

Lingle, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, has endorsed Ryan for V.P. “but is attacking Mazie Hirono on the basis of how many bills she has authored that have passed Congress,” said Hirono campaign spokesman Kinsey Kiriakos.

Ryan’s record has been picked apart by the national media.

GovTrack.us keeps tabs on members of Congress and the bills they’ve sponsored. Ryan’s GovTrack profile shows that he has sponsored approximately 75 bills since 1999.

Eight of them passed the House. But just two of them were signed by the president, even though the GOP dominated Congress between 1999 and 2007 and a Republican was in the White House for much of that time.

One, H.R. 5394, amended the Internal Revenue Code “to modify taxation of arrow components” and was signed by former President George W. Bush in December 2004. (As it turns out, he’s a bowhunter.) The other, H.R. 4241, re-named a Janesville, Wis. post office to the “Les Aspin Post Office Building” and was signed by former President Bill Clinton in July 2000.

There are 13 other members of Congress who’ve been in office since 1999. They’ve passed an average of nearly four bills per member, according to a Civil Beat analysis of GovTrack data.

To be sure, 2012 marks Ryan’s 13th — not 14th — year in Congress.

Civil Beat asked Lenny Klompus, a Lingle campaign spokesman, what he thought of Hirono’s comment. He didn’t have much to say but indicated that he found the statement somewhat irrelevant to Hawaii’s U.S. Senate race.

“Mazie Hirono isn’t running against Paul Ryan,” he said. “His (Ryan’s) name isn’t on the ballot.”

As for Hirono’s record, GovTrack shows that none of the 57 bills she’s sponsored have been signed by the president.

Hirono was elected to represent Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District in 2007. The Democratic Party has, for the most part, held the congressional majority since then.

BOTTOM LINE: Lingle has criticized Hirono for passing zero bills in Congress. In response, Hirono pointed to Republican vice presidential nominee Ryan for passing only two rather inconsequential bills despite being in Congress for more than twice as long. GovTrack.us shows that Hirono was correct. We find the Democrat’s statement to be TRUE.

About the Author