Michele Bachmann's congressional record

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Michele Bachmann: Representation without legislation.
With so much written about the wild things Michele Bachmann says, City Pages thought we'd take a look at what she has actually accomplished in Congress.

Despite Bachmann's early success in the presidential polls, her congressional record is composed almost entirely of confusion and failure. She's authored bills that not a single other lawmaker will cosponsor; she's sponsored the exact same failing bills over and over again; she's entered bills on obscure or trivial topics.

Some are probably well-meaning, such as those relating to foster children or adoption services. Others seem downright awful, like the Emergency Energy Cut the Red Tape Now Act of 2008, which would allow pretty much anyone to start blowing up national parks to look for oil or natural gas.

Of the 46 sponsored bills to her name -- only two of which have actually passed the U.S. House -- here are a few of the highlights:

Positive Alternatives Act

Bachmann's generally opposed to spending, and seems freaked out by the federal government reaching into any straight person's life. But with this bill, introduced December 19, 2007, she tried to add a pro-life section to the Social Security Act to pay for a variety of things that would discourage women from having abortions.

It's interesting just how far-reaching Bachmann imagined this bill to be. It proposes to fund "any other service designed to assist a qualified individual who is a woman" -- that "woman" part is probably important -- "to carry her unborn child to term...including the provision of...baby food, maternity or baby clothing, baby furniture, or information or education (including classes), regarding prenatal care, childbirth, adoption, parenting, chastity, or abstinence."

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Michele Bachmann will risk her career to save your old lightbulbs.
Essentially, this bill is offering chunks of money -- under the broad label of "any other service" -- just to stop a woman from having an abortion. Normally Bachmann doesn't support welfare handouts, but in this case she's willing to use unlimited piles of taxpayer money to pay for diapers, Gerbers, and chastity classes.

With 42 cosponsors, this bill was sent to a committee the day after its conception, but wasn't carried to term.

Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act

The Energy Independence and Security Act, passed in 2007, has a clause that will lead to the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs by 2012. Those bulbs, the classic hot wire in a glass model, haven't changed much in 50 years and use more energy than newer models.

In this bill, Bachmann tried to save America's light bulbs by removing the clause, unless the comptroller general produces a report that shows that switching bulbs will save money and "reduce overall carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent."

In other words, Bachmann is giving the comptroller general -- who's actually kind of busy -- a homework assignment about light bulbs. Bachmann's not ashamed of this one, either: She re-entered the same bill again this year, this time to even less interest from her fellow lawmakers.

Bachmann has made light bulbs a central point of her presidential campaign, saying, "With President Bachmann Americans can buy any light bulb they want."

Bachmann's bill, entered originally March 13, 2008, had only 24 cosponsors, and was referred to a committee the next day, where it mercifully burned out.

Recognizing the State of Minnesota's 150th anniversary

With all this failure, it's worth pointing out one of the congresswoman's two successful pieces of legislation.

Bachmann's only success in congress was recognizing Minnesota's anniversary.

In the text of the bill, Bachmann lists all of the state's great accomplishments. One line reads, "Whereas Minnesota is the Nation's number one producer of sugarbeets and turkeys."

Other lines promote the Mall of America and the "timeless reputation of compassion, strength, and determination" of its people.

She got this piffle passed, but even that wasn't easy. Bachmann originally entered the bill December 19, 2007, but only six lawmakers cared to look up from their desks and cosponsor it. She put it back in January 16, 2008, and finally got it passed... five months later, on June 3, or three weeks after the actual anniversary. Sorry, Minnesota, America got really tied up at work, and forgot our anniversary. He'll make it up to us next time.

The bill passed the U.S. House at 7:05 p.m., June 3, a moment that all Minnesotans will never forget.

School Choice for Foster Kids Act

Bachmann isn't above introducing bills that seem tailored just for her.

On April 23, 2009, the congresswoman pushed for a law that would authorize state money to send foster kids to private schools. On top of tuition, the state dollars would also cover transportation costs.

This probably seemed like a fantastic idea to a woman with 23 foster kids and a distaste for the public school system.

Unfortunately, few others felt the same way. The bill was referred to a committee the same day it was introduced. With only 23 cosponsors, it never moved forward.

Census Improvement Act

Remember when Bachmann was totally convinced that ACORN planned to use census data for some diabolical scheme?

In 2009, Bachmann told reporters she refused to fill in census information because she believed the liberal community organizers would be going door to door collecting personal data from the American people.

As it turned out, Bachmann's statements were flat out wrong. ACORN was just one of 30,000 groups that were partnering with the Census, and were not actually hiring employees to infiltrate American households.

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"There were Japs all around us," Sorenson said.
But being called out on this factual inaccuracy didn't cease Bachmann's paranoia and conspiracy theories. In September 2009, she introduced a bill that would limit the amount of questions that census workers could ask.

The bill was sent to a subcommittee a month later and never moved forward.

To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 2168 7th Avenue in Anoka, Minnesota, as the "Richard K. Sorenson Post Office Building"

In her third year as a congresswoman and still striking out on passing actual legislation, it seems Bachmann decided to go for something simple.

In March 2010, Bachmann introduced a bill that would rename an Anoka post office after Richard K. Sorenson. According to the Anoka County Historical Society, Sorenson was a Marine in World War II. In 1944, during the Marine landing of Kwajalein Atoll, Sorenson found himself in a tight spot when a live grenade landed next to him and five other Marines.

Sorenson jumped on the grenade and miraculously lived to tell the tale, which earned him the Medal of Honor.

"There were Japs all around us," he recalled, according to the Anoka County Historical Society, "but we were holding our position."

Unfortunately, Bachmann's fellow lawmakers didn't see renaming the Anoka post office as being such a high priority. Only two people joined the push as cosponsors. The bill was sent to committee the day it was introduced, and never moved again.

The entirety of Bachmann's legislative career, courtesy of the official THOMAS record, can be found on the next page.

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