With the kind of name recognition and political pull that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) undoubtedly wields in the halls of Congress, one may or may not be surprised to learn that, according to new data, she’s all talk and virtually zero walk.
According to the Washington Examiner, in a new study from the Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) that ranked members of Congress for how “effective” they are as lawmakers, on the left side of the political aisle, Pelosi came in nearly dead last with a ranking of 237 out of 240 House Democrats in the previous session of Congress.
Why so low?
Pelosi talks a big game when it comes to legislation, but apparently, the acts of actually drafting, proposing, debating, and eventually passing that legislation is not her strong suit.
The 81-year-old California lawmaker wasn’t the only high-profile name placed squarely in the slacker column of the study, which was carried out in a joint project between the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) were also poorly ranked, at 230 and 214, respectively.
In Ocasio-Cortez’s case, the young lawmaker managed to introduce 21 “substantive” bills within her first two years of representing the people of New York in Congress. However, not a single one of those legislative pieces managed to make it to the next stage in becoming law.
“It’s clear that she was trying to get her legislative agenda moving and engage with the lawmaking process. But she wasn’t as successful as some other members were — even among [other] freshmen — at getting people to pay attention to her legislation,” said political science professor and the co-director of the CEL Alan Wiseman, according to the New York Post.
Omar’s record was slightly worse, with 33 “substantive” bills proposed, yet none of them making it to the next phase of getting any attention, let alone becoming law.
The common denominator
So, what’s the shared trait between Pelosi, Ocasio-Cortez, and Omar? Those behind the study think that the data suggests that the members of Congress most likely to be seen on social media or behind a media camera are the ones not getting any actual work done — the work they were elected to do by their constituents.
Craig Volden, a co-director of the CEL, pointed out that the “workhorses” in Congress are the ones who are little-known outside of their state and are usually behind the scenes doing their jobs, unlike the lawmakers who only seem to be interested in making tomorrow’s headlines.
That observation was clearly evidenced by looking at who ranks at the top of their class for both Democrats and Republicans: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and former Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY). Neither one has much in way of national name recognition, but both have an impressive resume full of legislative successes.
One notable exception to the trend was fellow “Squad” member Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who managed to score a ranking of 92 out of 240.
Unfortunately for America, it doesn’t feel like those who follow people like Pelosi and Ocasio-Cortez even care what they’re actually doing in their offices; rather, they seem vastly more interested in what might be said in the next social media video or press conference.