M.M. asks:

There is much discussion about which part of Congress does more (or less)  than the other. Some people are fixated on the number of votes taken in each chamber. For example some people are slamming the Senate saying that there are 390 bills that were voted on in the House that the Senate is sitting on because Sen Reid refuses to bring them to a vote.

Is this what the numbers say?

There are 347 bills (including joint resolutions) that the House has passed that the Senate hasn’t yet picked up (352 if concurrent resolutions are included). But the number doesn’t really tell us much.

Both sides only hold votes when they’re reasonably sure the measure will pass. So when a bill doesn’t get a vote, it doesn’t mean the bill is being blocked but that there isn’t enough support for it to pass anyway. Reid could hold a vote on all of those bills, but he knows that his Democratic majority in the Senate won’t vote for them anyway.

Both sides want to look good by passing bills without thinking any further ahead about whether what they’re passing has any support in the other chamber. When a bill doesn’t get a vote in the other chamber, it shows a failure on both sides to reach consensus.

The Senate has picked up many House bills. It’s passed 124 of them, or 26%. Most of those are already or on their way to becoming law.

For comparison, the Senate has passed 108 bills in all (including joint resolutions). Of those, the House has passed 40, or 37%, and those are already or are on their way to becoming law. That leaves 68 bills that the House has yet to pick up.

I know 37 is bigger than 26, but in the big picture these numbers are actually pretty close. I wouldn’t read much into the difference.