The freshman class that swept Republicans into control of the House has sponsored more than 400 pieces of legislation since January, ranging from bills that would dismantle President Obama’s health care law to minting coins to honor mothers and the National Basketball Association.
Only a handful have become law. They include a measure that praises the nation’s intelligence community for “bringing Osama bin Laden to justice” and another that aims to protect trains and subways from terrorist attacks.
Freshman members of Congress often spend their initial years learning the process and slowly working their way up to positions of influence. About 65% of all bills passed through Congress are sponsored by chairmen of committees and subcommittees, so it’s hard for regular legislators, let alone freshmen just establishing themselves, to pass legislation, said John Wilkerson, a political science professor at the University of Washington.
But freshman groups that have stormed into Congress in waves — such as the “Watergate babies” of 1974 that sent Democrats into the House following President Nixon’s resignation and the “Republican Revolution” — of 1994 have had more success in other ways.