At rallies, in speeches and on Twitter, Mr. Trump repeatedly boasts of the bills he has signed — 42 as of this week. He has said no president has “passed more legislation,” conceding once earlier this year that he trails Franklin D. Roosevelt, who he notes “had a major Depression to handle.”
In fact, as he approaches six months in office on Thursday, Mr. Trump is slightly behind the lawmaking pace for the past six presidents, who as a group signed an average of 43 bills during the same period. And an analysis of the bills Mr. Trump signed shows that about half were minor and inconsequential, passed by Congress with little debate. Among recent presidents, both the total number of bills he signed and the legislation’s substance make Mr. Trump about average.
President Jimmy Carter signed 70 bills in the first six months, according to an analysis of bills signed by previous White House occupants. Bill Clinton signed 50. George W. Bush signed 20 bills into law. Barack Obama signed 39 bills during the period, including an $800 billion stimulus program to confront an economic disaster, legislation to make it easier for women to sue for equal pay, a bill to give the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco and an expansion of the federal health insurance program for children.
Mr. Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt both had signed more bills into law by their 100-day mark than Mr. Trump did in almost twice that time. Truman had signed 55 bills and Roosevelt had signed 76 during their first 100 days.