By Caleb Levine, Intern at Unfold, Inc.
Congress was not designed to get things done quickly or easily. A combination of factors, including conflicting agendas, archaic procedures, and the existence of the filibuster ensures that little gets done. Because of this, most effort expended to pass legislation is wasted, as opponents have a variety of tools to make sure that said legislation never sees the light of day. Even inconsequential pieces of legislation can get bogged down and defeated. Unfold’s probability rating shows the dim prospects of most bills submitted every session.
Looking at bills submitted to the Senate recently, it is difficult to find many that seem likely to pass. Many bills have probabilities in the single digits and almost none have a probability over 30%. Even seemingly innocuous bills, such as Senate Resolution 538, which would designate September 2016 as “National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month,” has only a 24% chance of passing. Senate Resolution 569, which would designate November 26, 2016 as “Small Business Saturday” and which has a whopping 39 sponsors across both sides of the aisle, has a similarly low 23% chance.
As you can imagine, more controversial bills are even less likely to pass. For instance, Unfold puts the probability of S. 2927, a bill which prevents retaliation against medical providers that refuse to provide abortion, at just 2%. This bill is sponsored by 18 Republicans in a Republican-Majority Senate and yet has almost no chance of passing. Regardless of your views on abortion, it’s worth noting how much time and money went into submitting this bill and hundreds more like it which have effectively no chance of passage.
Now, in fairness to the 114th Congress, it is rare for much of anything to pass this late in an election year. However, this Congress has been remarkably unproductive during the last couple years — they passed a mere 244 bills over the course of their term. For comparison, the 95th Congress (1977-1979) passed 804 bills. In a time where so little is getting passed, putting your effort in the right place has become more vital than ever. This is where Unfold and other legislative data tracking services can be helpful. Knowing what is and is not worth your organization’s efforts can save valuable time, money and energy and allow you to retain those resources for better use elsewhere.
For more info on Unfold’s services please go to unfold.com.