The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University today jointly released their new Bipartisan Index rankings for the full 116th Congress (2019 – 2020). The non-partisan tool measures the degree to which Senators and Representatives work across party lines on legislation.
In the Senate, both Republican and Democratic Senators scored above the historical average, with Republican Senators holding a higher cumulative score than their Democratic counterparts. In the House, however, Democrats outscored Republicans, with both parties scoring only slightly above the historical norm.
“Although partisan combat between the parties and their leaderships reached a crescendo during the 116th Congress, individual members of Congress worked on legislation with their opposing party counterparts with surprising frequency,” said Lugar Center Policy Director, Dan Diller. “The Bipartisan Index scores show that despite the embittered partisan climate, members still sought out bipartisan partnerships in the run-up to the 2020 election — usually below the radar of the national news cycle.”
The Bipartisan Index measures how often a member of Congress introduces bills that attract cosponsors from the other party, and how often they in turn co-sponsor a bill introduced from across the aisle. The Index excludes non-binding resolutions and ceremonial bills. It is based on a formula that considers both the absolute numbers of bipartisan bills sponsored and co-sponsored and the percentage of such bills in a member’s portfolio. It also includes a metric that gives members credit for the number of bipartisan co-sponsors on their sponsored bills. The Index uses a historical standard based on 28 years of data to compare current members to historical averages. No subjective judgments are made about individual members or bills.
In the 116th Congress, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) extended her unprecedented run as the most bipartisan Senator. She has topped the Senate’s Bipartisan Index rankings for eight consecutive years. Her score of 4.584 is the highest full-Congress Senate score in the history of the Bipartisan Index. On the House side, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) finished first among the 437 House members scored. Like Sen. Collins, he set a new Bipartisan Index record for the highest full-Congress score ever recorded in his chamber: 6.839. His impressive mark was built on his co-sponsorship of an astounding 884 bills offered by the other party. In the 116th Congress, no one else in the House had more than 297 bipartisan co-sponsorships. In the previous Congress (115th), Rep. Fitzpatrick also was a bipartisan leader, finishing in second place behind now retired Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Rep. John Katko (R-NY) followed up his third place showing in the 115th Congress with a second-place finish behind Fitzpatrick in the 116th.
Scores in the two houses of Congress are based on separate data, so the scores of House members are not comparable to those of Senators.
In the 116th Congress, 63 Senators earned a positive bipartisan score — meaning they scored better than the average Senator in their circumstances during the previous 13 Congresses (1993-2018). On the House side, 239 members in the 116th Congress scored above the historical average, while 198 were below the historical average.
Ironically, two members of Congress on the presidential candidate list who voted against President Trump during his second impeachment process ranked near the bottom of their respective Houses on the BPI. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska ranked 93rd in the Senate and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, ranked 421st in the House.