Republicans Wrap Up the Year With a Whirlwind of Progress

If nothing else, at least Sen. Harry Reid is bold in his mistakenness. In an attempt to end the legislative year on a sour note, not only did he declare that this Congress was the least productive in history, he dared the fact checkers to review his claim.

“One of the newspapers here has a Pinocchio check, and they look at the facts and analyze them and then they can give up to four Pinocchios meaning people simply didn’t tell the truth…So, this is the most unproductive Senate in the history of the country, and there are facts and figures to show that,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

So what did the Washington Post’s fact checker have to say?

Well, according to the statistics provided by Reid’s staff, the current Senate has already passed 157 bills, far more than the 99 in the 113th Senate, 112 in the 112th Senate, and 156 in the 11th Senate, each of which had a filibuster-proof Democrat majority. And then there’s the Brookings Institution’s “vital statistics” metric, which compiles data on all recorded votes, allowing you to look not only at bills passed, but also nominees confirmed and amendments considered. By this measure the current Senate had 331 recorded votes – well ahead of the 291 votes in the last Congress over its entire two year period.

In sum, the Post concludes, that Reid deserves three Pinocchios because there are metrics “that indicate this Senate is operating at a better or faster pace than the last Senate when Reid’s party headed the majority.”

Voters don’t even have to look back that far to see that this Congress was vastly more productive than those led by Reid.

After all, three weeks ago the House and Senate compromised on the first long-term transportation bill to pass in more than a decade. It is completely paid for and increases funding for both highway and transit programs, which will provide much-needed investment in the nation’s infrastructure system.

Two weeks ago, they passed the biggest rewrite of our education laws in more than 25 years, overhauling the No Child Left Behind Act to devolve power away from the federal government and back to parents and local decisionmakers. This will prevent Washington bureaucrats from creating one-size-fits-all standards that penalize students, while also maintaining some critical metrics to make sure teachers and schools remain accountable.

Last week, Congress passed the most comprehensive rewrite of customs enforcement laws in a generation. The bill removes barriers to trade, strengthens the fight against human trafficking, and adds additional protections against predatory pricing, intellectual property violations and currency manipulation.

And finally, this week, the House and Senate kicked it into overdrive, agreeing on a bipartisan compromise spending bill that repeals the oil export ban in order to take advantage of our booming domestic energy production, increases resources for our military to assist in confronting and defeating ISIS, tightens the security requirements of the visa system to prevent travel to terrorist hotspots, prohibits new funding for Obamacare, holds the EPA to its lowest funding levels since 2008, and reins in the IRS. They also passed a permanent “tax extenders” bill, which will end the days of extending peripheral tax policies one year at a time, a process that wreaked havoc on businesses looking for certainty from Washington.

That’s a lot for Congress to get done over the course of an entire session, but this Republican-led legislature got it done in three weeks. But don’t expect them to rest on their laurels. If anything, they’ve cleared the decks of long-stalled bills in order to chart a new, conservative course.

“In 2016, we are going to be a proposition party,” Ryan said upon concluding the House’s work. “As I told our members this week, I didn’t become speaker to sit in a room and make big decisions on big bills. I became speaker to give us a horizon to shoot for—to lift our gaze so that we can show the American people who we are, and what we believe, and what we’re going to do to solve their problems. That’s why our top goal in 2016 is going to be to put together a bold, pro-growth agenda for the country.”

Paul Ryan’s hopeful optimism versus Harry Reid’s curmudgeonly cynicism. Is this even a choice?