W.Va. lawmakers ranked on annual bipartisanship scale | News, Sports, Jobs

By | May 11, 2022
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CHARLESTON — Which West Virginia legislators rank highest on the bipartisanship scale?

The nonpartisan Lugar Center — founded by the former US Sen. Richard Lugar — and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University released their annual Bipartisan Index Rankings last week for the first session of 117th Congress, covering 2020 and 2021.

The Lugar index looks at members of the US Senate and House of Representatives and ranks members based on their willingness to work with members of the opposite political party. The Bipartisan Index Rankings look at the bills that Republican and Democratic lawmakers choose to be co-sponsors on and ranks lawmakers on how often they co-sponsor each other’s bills.

“The Bipartisan Index provides an important indicator of the state of congressional collaboration,” said Maria Cancian, dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy. “While it is disappointing that collaboration has declined over the last year, I am encouraged by the lawmakers who are steadfastly committed to working across differences to advance the common good.”

Dan Diller, policy director for the Lugar Center, said that many lawmakers saw their bipartisanship rankings dip after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol Building by supporters of former president Donald Trump to try and stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election for Biden.

“Many observers speculated how well members of Congress would work together in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.” Diller said. “Regrettably, the new 2021 Bipartisan Index scores offer strong quantitative evidence that bipartisanship at the individual member level plummeted last year.”

The effort by US Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., to work with Republicans across the aisle in 2021 helped shoot him to the top of this year’s Lugar rankings, jumping from 26th last year to seventh this year. Manchin is one of six Democratic US senators in Lugar’s top 10 for bipartisanship.

Manchin has been climbing the rankings after dropping to 27th in 2019. Manchin’s score was much higher his first full year in the Senate in 2011, where he ranked fourth. At one point, Manchin ranked second for bipartisanship during the 113th Congress between 2013 and 2015.

Particularly over the last year, Manchin has made it a point to work in bipartisan groups with both Democratic and Republican senators. One bipartisan working group helped negotiate what became the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Manchin is also part of other bipartisan groups working on election reform and a clean energy plans.

“West Virginians sent me to Washington to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find lasting, bipartisan solutions,” Manchin said in a statement Monday. “Over the last year, I was proud to lead the bipartisan effort to pass a historic infrastructure bill that will bring $6 billion to West Virginia while creating good-paying jobs and growing our economy. While I am proud to be ranked one of the most bipartisan Senators, the job is not done. I will continue to work with my bipartisan colleagues to address the challenges facing every American and West Virginian.”

US Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., came in 11th in the Lugar rankings, dropping from sixth in last year’s rankings. She ranked seventh in the 2019 rankings but ranked third during the 115th Congress between 2017 and 2019. During Capito’s first full year in the Senate, after her 2014 election to succeed the retiring Jay Rockefeller, Capito ranked 14th for bipartisanship.

Capito was also an early negotiator with President Joe Biden on the package that ultimately became the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. As the Republican ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Capito also has a good working relationship with committee Chairman Tom Carper, D-Del. The EPW committee has moved bills dealing with surface transportation and drinking water/wastewater by unanimous votes.

“I have always and continue to put West Virginia first in all of my decision-making, and I am willing to work with anyone to help achieve those goals for our state,” Capito said. “I’m proud to have good relationships with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and I will continue to work in a bipartisan way, as I have in the past, on issues such as expanding broadband access, fighting the opioid epidemic, and helping our communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Congressman David McKinley, RW.Va., dropped from 10th in the Lugar ranking last year to 15th this year. McKinley also ranked 10th in 2019 and 11th during the 115th Congress. McKinley’s first rank in the Lugar-McCourt index was 48th during the 113th Congress.

Congressman Alex Mooney ranked 404th in this year’s Lugar rankings, drown from 394th last year. Rep. Carol Miller, RW.Va., ranked 209th, up from 288th last year.

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