As U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn nears the end of his first year in Congress, the Minnesota DFL Party is seeking to hang a new label on the first-term Republican: Least productive member of the Minnesota's congressional delegation.
Hagedorn has authored only three pieces of legislation since taking the oath of office in January, ranking him near the bottom in terms of productivity for Congress. The average number of bills sponsored in the House is 13.35, according to an analysis provided by the Minnesota DFL Party.
His DFL critics say Hagedorn's status as a first-term representative in the minority party -- Democrats control the House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- shouldn't be viewed as excuse, because Peter Stauber, a first-term Republican like Hagedorn, has written 10 pieces of legislation.
By comparison, Rep. Angie Craig, a first-term Democratic representative of the Second District, has sponsored 16 bills; Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat, 11; Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat, 11; Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat, 15; Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican, 11; and Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat, 15.
Hagedorn has also signed on to the fewest pieces of legislation, co-sponsoring 127 bills compared to McCollum's 463 co-sponsorships, the highest, and Stauber's 174, the second lowest behind Hagedorn.
Hagedorn's supporters say such an analysis is oversimplified and fails to recognize the degree to which the House impeachment process under Democratic leadership has swamped the legislative process.
Hagedorn's critics contend that although a member of the minority, Hagedorn's political capital as an unflinching supporter of President Trump's agenda should yield more results than it has so far.
Democrats have made no secret of their desire to flip Hagedorn's seat into the DFL column in the 2020 election. Hagedorn won the seat by a 1,300-vote margin in 2016, defeating DFL candidate Dan Feehan.
DFL Chairman Ken Martin said Hagedorn is failing to move the needle on big-ticket items for his district, such as securing funding for completion of the U.S. Highway 14 project between Nicollet and New Ulm, influencing trade and tariff policy for the benefit of farmers, and enforcing the Renewable Fuel Standard.
"Your job is to represent the people in your district, including putting forward bills and legislation that benefit your district, in addition to the rest of the country. He's done none of that. It's remarkable how inactive he's been as a congressman," said DFL chairman Ken Martin.
Jake Murphy, a Hagedorn spokesperson, directed questions to Carly Atchison, regional press secretary of National Republican Congressional Committee.
"It's alarming the Post-Bulletin doesn't know the difference between co-sponsoring a bill and actually having something signed into law," Atchison said in an email.
"It's also unfortunate that your publication would so easily be spoon fed this pathetic pitch from the same political party that has had exactly none of its priorities signed into law by President Trump because they are too obsessed with impeaching him," she added.
Hagedorn's legislative record compares more favorably to the last Republican to hold the seat. Former U.S. Rep. Gil Gutknecht produced only two pieces of legislation at this point in his career. Former DFL Rep. Tim Walz, now the state's governor, sponsored eight bills in his first year.
Supporters of Hagedorn say such an analysis fails to capture the nuance and complexity involved in passing legislation. Hagedorn has been a critic of the waiver process that has exempted refineries from adding ethanol to their fuel. And he's co-sponsored bills to that effect. The waivers have hurt both the ethanol industry and farmers.
They also note that Hagedorn worked in a bipartisan process with Walz to secure funding for Highway 14. They also point out, in a Rome-wasn't-built-a-day comment, that the effort to improve the highway has been a decades-long process that has involved both parties.