Batten’s Center for Effective Lawmaking Announces the Most Effective Lawmakers in the 115th Congress Mar 01, 2019 Batten’s Center for Effective Lawmaking Announces the Most Effective Lawmakers in the 115th Congress Today the Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL), a joint initiative between the University of Virginia’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and Vanderbilt University, announced the most effective lawmakers of the 115th Congress (2017-18). In addition to ranking the most effective members, the CEL for the first time ranked lawmakers with long-standing patterns of effectiveness as well as the most high-performing freshmen. The CEL determines a Legislative Effectiveness Score (LES) for each Senator and each Representative in each Congress, combining 15 metrics regarding the bills that members sponsor, how far they move through the lawmaking process, and how important their policy proposals are. For each member, the CEL also identifies a benchmark score based on the average effectiveness of lawmakers who share that legislator’s similar level of seniority, majority- or minority-party status, and chair position on a committee or subcommittee. Additional information on the methodology used to determine scores is available on the CEL website. Top 10 House Republicans (115th Congress) 1. Don Young (AK-AL) 2. Edward Royce (CA-39) 3. Michael McCaul (TX-10) 4. John Katko (NY-24) 5. Steve Knight (CA-25) 6. Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) 7. Greg Walden (OR-2) 8. Scott Tipton (CO-3) 9. Steve Chabot (OH-1) 10. Barbara Comstock (VA-10) Top 10 Senate Republicans (115th Congress) 1. Chuck Grassley (IA) 2. Orrin Hatch (UT) 3. John Thune (SD) 4. John Cornyn (TX) 5. Ron Johnson (WI) 6. Jeff Flake (AZ) 7. Lisa Murkowski (AK) 8. Dan Sullivan (AK) 9. Roger Wicker (MS) 10. Marco Rubio (FL) Top 10 House Democrats (115th Congress) 1. Eleanor Norton (DC-AL) 2. Elijah Cummings (MD-7) 3. Peter DeFazio (OR-4) 4. Matt Cartwright (PA-17) 5. Nita Lowey (NY-17) 6. Nydia Velazquez (NY-7) 7. Timothy Walz (MN-1) 8. Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) 9. Bennie Thompson (MS-2) 10. Eliot Engel (NY-16) Top 10 Senate Democrats (115th Congress) 1. Amy Klobuchar (MN) 2. Claire McCaskill (MO) 3. Jon Tester (MT) 4. Gary Peters (MI) 5. Bill Nelson (FL) 6. Benjamin Cardin (MD) 7. Dianne Feinstein (CA) 8. Mazie Hirono (HI) 9. Jeanne Shaheen (NH) 10. Robert Casey (PA) Some members of Congress attain the status of being a top-ten lawmaker within their party quite infrequently, rising onto the list due to their committee chair position or as a Senator seeking legislative accomplishments prior to a tough electoral battle. For others, effective lawmaking is a way of life. Those members who significantly outperform their benchmark score fall into the “exceeds expectations” category. Only about one quarter of lawmakers qualify for this exceptional category in any given Congress, and those who do so regularly are truly remarkable and worth watching. The list below shows those with the longest active streaks of exceeding expectations continuing through the 115th Congress. This list shows both Republicans and Democrats to be prolific lawmakers, despite differences in their ideological positions and their views about government activism. Longest Streak of “Exceeding Expectations” (through 115th Congress) 1. Rep. Don Young (R-AK) Streak: 23 Congresses 2. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Streak: 10 Congresses 3. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) Streak: 6 Congresses 4. Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) Streak: 4 Congresses 5. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) Streak: 4 Congresses 6. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) Streak: 4 Congresses 7. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Streak: 4 Congresses 8. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Streak: 3 Congresses 9. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) Streak: 3 Congresses 10. Thirteen House Members Streak: 3 Congresses There are also a number of new freshmen lawmakers who are off to a promising start in their first two years, scoring in the “exceeds expectations” category in their first term in office. Research suggests that performance in a lawmaker’s freshman term is highly correlated with subsequent lawmaking effectiveness, as well as with their overall career trajectory. Freshmen “Exceeding Expectations” (115th Congress) 1. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) 2. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) 3. Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL) 4. Rep. John Faso (R-NY) 5. Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) 6. Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) 7. Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) 8. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) 9. Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) 10. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) 11. Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA) 12. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) 13. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) 14. Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (D-PR) 15. Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL) Craig Volden Craig Volden is a professor of public policy and politics, with appointments in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics. He studies legislative politics and the interaction among political institutions, including within American federalism. Read full bio Related Content Craig Volden Spatial Models of Legislative Effectiveness Research Spatial models of policymaking have evolved from the median voter theorem through the inclusion of institutional considerations such as political parties, committees, and various voting and amendment rules. Such models, however, implicitly assume that no policy is more effective than another at solving public policy problems and that all proposers are equally capable of advancing proposals. Party Calls and Reelection in the US Senate Research Minozzi and Volden advance the idea that a substantial portion of partisan voting activity in Congress is a simple call to unity that is especially easily embraced by ideological extremists. If correct, Minozzi and Volden’s findings should extend from the House to the Senate, despite differences in institutional structures and in tools at the disposal of party leaders across the two chambers. Productive Politicians Fare Better in Primaries News Now that Super Tuesday is behind us, voters can look forward to another primary in the spring – this time for Congressional candidates. As a professor of public policy and politics at the Batten School and co-director of the Center for Effective Lawmaking, Craig Volden has studied what factors make for a successful candidate and drawn some conclusions about this state’s congressional delegation. Congress is back in town. Here’s why lawmakers will struggle to get much done. 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