The 116th Congress was one of the least productive in history in terms of passing legislation, but the lawmakers set new records for social media use.
Members of Congress made more than 2.2 million posts on social media in 2019 and 2020, including 1.57 million Twitter posts and 680,000 Facebook posts, according to data from Pew Research Center. From 2015 to 2016, lawmakers in the 114th Congress made over 1.5 million posts on social media – over one million on Twitter and 484,000 on Facebook.
The 116th Congress set a new record, making around 738,000 more social media posts than the 114th Congress, which is when Pew began tracking the data.
NEW: The 116th Congress wasn’t especially productive in terms of the number of substantive bills it passed during its two years in office. But it set several records for lawmakers’ use of social media. https://t.co/tBEVN7v4ae pic.twitter.com/MmCGBkiTsF
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) January 25, 2021
Lawmakers have also engaged more with others on social media. Members of the 116th Congress had over 2.2 billion “reactions” and “favorites,” compared to the 114th Congress’ 356 million. The 116th Congress also had 390 million more “shares” and “retweets” than the 114th Congress.
Despite being busy after the 2020 election, the 116th Congress was one of the least productive in U.S. history in terms of bills being passed, Pew found. The 116th Congress passed 233 “substantial laws,” or laws that impacted federal law, policy, or tax money. Out of the 24 Congresses that Pew analyzed, only four were less legislatively productive than the 116th Congress. In the last decade, just three Congresses passed fewer substantial laws than the 116th Congress, including the 114th Congress, which passed 232 substantial laws; the 113th Congress, which passed 212 substantial laws; and the 112th Congress, which passed 208 substantial laws.
The lack of legislation from the 116th Congress could be attributed to clashes between the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate, or to disagreements between Congress and former President Donald Trump, Pew notes.
Lawmakers in the 116th Congress did have a busy “lame-duck” session, referring to the period of time between an election and when a new Congress convenes. 44% of all the bills passed by the 116th Congress were passed in the last two months of its two-year term, Pew found.