Go Biggs or go home: Arizona Republican sponsors 521 bills in a day
While the move may shatter records, it's unlikely to matter later
Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs introduced more than 500 bills last Wednesday — 521 to be exact: HR 1844 to HR 2364.
In just a single day, the former House Freedom Caucus chairman sponsored more bills than anyone else in an entire two-year sitting of Congress going back to 1973-74. If anybody else holds the record, they would have set it between 1789 and 1973.
Biggs’ 521 bills are 444 more than the 77 that he introduced in the entire 117th Congress, giving him credit for resolutions as well as bills. And it’s 419 more in one day than the 118th Congress’ second-most prolific legislator so far, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, has sponsored this year.
If his colleagues want to compete, they’ll need to pick up the pace. Three months into this Congress — with only 21 more months to go — Biggs is on course to introduce more than 3,600 bills.
The bills would set spending caps on hundreds of budget line items. According to a news release from Biggs’ office, they would collectively “reduce nondefense discretionary spending to pre-COVID levels,” in line with Freedom Caucus demands to cut $100 billion in spending in fiscal 2024.
When asked for comment, a Biggs spokesperson took issue with CQ Roll Call’s characterization of the mass bill sponsorship as “a stunt designed to get media interest [that] worked.” The spokesperson said a release would be forthcoming but did not respond to further interview requests.
The bevy of bills are unlikely to see the House floor, said Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
“Are these 500+ bills going to become law? No. Are they even going to do that much to further the process towards getting a deal? Also, probably not,” said Reynolds. “But you need to know where various factions are, and this gives us some information about where the Biggs’ wing is.”
That wing appears to be six Republicans deep: Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, Eli Crane of Arizona, Bob Good of Virginia, Matt Rosendale of Montana and Matt Gaetz of Florida signed on as co-sponsors.
The draft law deluge came as Democrats and Republicans mostly posture around raising the national debt ceiling, adopting a budget and enacting the annual spending bills.
Biggs’ potential record comes with an asterisk. The Library of Congress doesn’t track members’ individual statistics but the Congressional Record reveals a few instances where the House, collectively, introduced more bills on a single day.
Reynolds, who maintains Brookings’ “Vital Statistics on Congress,” also said she couldn’t definitively say where Biggs ranks in annals of history. CQ Roll Call’s analysis is based on readily-available Congress.gov records going back to the 93rd Congress.
As of Tuesday morning, the 586 bills and resolutions Biggs has sponsored this year compromise 14 percent of the 4,185 introduced in the 118th Congress.
Biggs might have been inspired by another Arizona Republican, then Rep. Jeff Flake, said Reynolds. In 2006, Flake proposed 41 amendments to the appropriation bills that would’ve stripped out members’ earmarks, and another 51 amendments to cut earmarks in 2007.
If you count amendments in your legislation stats, then Biggs’ prolific sponsoring session isn’t as much of an outlier, as a few senators have proposed changes to underlying bills by the bucketload in recent years. In the 117th Congress, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah big-timed Biggs, sponsoring 730 total pieces of legislation, including 593 amendments.
The late Sen. Orrin Hatch introduced 2,833 amendments in the 98th Congress, proposing most during a fight over 1984 civil rights legislation. Inundating the floor in amendments after cloture had been invoked was a relatively common filibuster tactic until a Senate rule change in 1986.