Now in his third term, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has yet to pass a single bill into law.
Third-term Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has gotten a lot of attention from right-wing media for his trolling attacks on his political opponents and anyone Donald Trump dislikes. But a review of his legislative record finds he has not been as successful at actually creating public policy.
Gaetz ran for an open House seat in 2016 on his record of "enacting meaningful conservative reform in Florida State House." He called himself "one of the most skilled advocates in the Florida Legislature" and "a lifelong advocate for Northwest Florida."
But he has proposed just 24 bills and resolutions since coming to Washington, D.C. — lower than the typical average for a member of Congress. Just one of those — a 2017 bill related to a local land conveyance matter — passed the House. None were signed into law.
Instead, he has focused his attention on cable news hits and being Trump's biggest fan. He brags on his campaign website of being called the "Trumpiest Congressman." He even admitted in 2019 that his only real identity in Congress was as an attacker of Trump's critics.
"I don't know how I'd fit into this place in the absence of the president," he observed. "I wake up every day and I do what I can to expose what I believe is an intractable bias among the people who are investigating the president."
With Trump gone, Gaetz has spent much of the current Congress grandstanding about patriotism. Last week, he unsuccessfully pushed for members of the House Judiciary Committee to begin each meeting by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, even though the House already begins each legislative day by doing so.
He then made an appearance on Fox News and attacked Democrats for exhibiting an "'I gave at the office' approach to patriotism" for not agreeing to his demand that everyone say the pledge twice.
Many of Gaetz's legislative proposals have similarly been little more than grandstanding political messaging attempts. Many aimed to troll and insult opponents, while others were intended to punish immigrants and undermine environmentalism. Most failed to attract more than a handful of Republican co-sponsors, and five attracted no co-sponsors at all.
Regardless of whether he believes his efforts would have resulted in "meaningful conservative reform," none of his proposed bills and resolutions got anywhere — even those offered when Republicans controlled the House.
His proposals included:
Gaetz filed a bill in June 2020 to bar public funds from being used for 2022 and 2026 World Cup events unless the United States Soccer Federation reinstated a requirement that all players stand for the U.S. national anthem. The bill attracted zero co-sponsors.
Attacking a colleague and mocking his physical appearance
In April 2019, Gaetz proposed a resolution to remove House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff from his position and strip him of his security clearance over his criticisms of Trump. Echoing Trump's belittling nickname for the California Democratic, Gaetz called his resolution the "PENCIL Resolution" (Preventing Extreme Negligence with Classified Information Licenses Resolution). The resolution did not attract a single co-sponsor.
Undermining the special counsel investigating Trump
In November 2017, Gaetz proposed a "sense of the House of Representatives" resolution stating that special counsel Robert Mueller should resign his post as head of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, baselessly accusing him of being "compromised." Just three other House Republicans signed on as co-sponsors.
Ending environmental protection
Gaetz filed a bill in February 2017 to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency entirely. He found just seven Republican colleagues willing to co-sponsor the measure.
His pro-energy industry "Green Real Deal" proposal, offered in April 2019 to troll supporters of the Green New Deal, picked up just one Republican co-sponsor.
Last May, Gaetz introduced the Protect American Nationals During Emergencies by Mitigating the Immigration Crisis ("PANDEMIC") Act, a bill designed to use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to deport virtually all undocumented immigrants in federal custody. It received no co-sponsors.
With Trump now facing his second impeachment trial, Gaetz mused last Wednesday that he might like to resign his House seat and defend the former president against the charge of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) seized on the idea, tweeting, "I strongly support my colleague Matt Gaetz doing this."
A spokesperson for Gaetz did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.