To a congressional novice, it's a shocking statistic: Bob Casey has sponsored hundreds of bills and zero, zip, nada have become law.
That's the centerpiece of Republican candidate Tom Smith's first concentrated attack on Casey. The campaign has launched a new website casting the incumbent as "Senator Zero" and claiming that none of Casey's legislative efforts have been successful.
As is everything in politics, nothing is ever quite so black and white. While it may be true that none of Casey's stand alone pieces of legislation have become law on their own, a number of his bills have been folded into larger packages that are now law.
One example is a Casey-sponsored bill on trade adjustment assistance. It became law as part of a larger package approving three free trade agreements. He also introduced a bill that provided tax cuts and credits to workers and small businesses. The former passed as part of a payroll tax cut deal.
Casey's spokesman, Larry Smar, said Smith simply doesn't understand how Capitol Hill works.
"Tom Smith clearly doesn't know how the legislative process works. Due to compromise and negotiation, bills and amendments are added to other bills or a different version of the bill is the one that is signed into law," Smar said.
But Smith's campaign isn't backing down. Asked about the bills Casey had sponsored that became law through other vehicles, Megan Piwowar, Smith's spokeswoman, reiterated their claim.
"Bob Casey would like voters to believe that passing zero bills into law in five years is a record to be proud of, just like he would like them to believe that voting for the president's failed policies 95% of the time makes him 'independent'," Piwowar said, adding that Casey is "offering the political spin of a career politician."
The Smith website also accuses Casey of multipling his legislative efforts in an election year, offering nearly 200 bills in the past year compared to 125 in the first four years of his Senate term.
Casey has been especially prolific of late, speaking out, writing letters or supporting bills on a wide range of issues from bath salts, to China-made U.S. Olympic outfits, to brush fire outbreaks, to Lyme disease to the Facebook co-founder dodging taxes.
But as for the massive increase in bill introductions, a large portion of those are from introducing tariff relief bills for Pennsylvania companies that are filed individually per product and are eventually folded into one massive package called the "Miscellaneous Tariff Bill." In the past, Casey split that responsibility with U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, but this year introduced them all himself because Senate Republicans, which includes his Pennsylvania other-half U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, boycotted the process.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun