Highlights from the New 117th Congress Legislative Effectiveness Scores

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The Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) is pleased to announce the release of the Legislative Effectiveness Scores (LES) for the recently completed 117th Congress (2021-23). As in all previous releases, the scores are based on the combination of fifteen metrics regarding the bills that each member of Congress sponsors, how far they move through the lawmaking process, and how substantial their policy proposals are. The scores are normalized to an average value of 1.0 in both the House and the Senate. More on our methodology can be found here.

Each lawmaker’s LES can be found here. For each Representative and Senator, we also identify a Benchmark Score, based on the average effectiveness of lawmakers who share that legislator’s majority- or minority-party status, level of seniority, and chair position on a committee or subcommittee. Controlling for these considerations is important in order to describe lawmakers on a more level playing field. For example, in the 117th House, minority-party lawmakers had an average LES of 0.58, compared to 1.40 for majority-party members, while committee chairs had an average of 2.55. In the more-egalitarian Senate, those averages were 0.77 in the minority party, 1.23 in the majority party, and 1.51 among committee chairs.

We then label each lawmaker as “Exceeding Expectations” for those outperforming their benchmark by 50% or more, “Below Expectations” for those below 50% of their benchmark, and “Meeting Expectations” for those scoring near their benchmark. 

Finally, within each party, we rank each member from first to last. This ranking is used to generate the Top Ten lists highlighted in the tables below. Given the strong benefit from being in the majority party, ranking the entire Congress together would be inappropriate. But these comparisons within each party are quite informative.

Highly Effective Democratic Lawmakers in the 117th House of Representatives

The following table identifies the top ten highest-scorers in the 117th House of Representatives among majority-party Democrats. Unsurprisingly, given the power of committee and subcommittee chairs, nine of the top ten held such important positions. 

Topping our list is Rep. Gerald Connolly of Virginia, with a Legislative Effectiveness Score more than seven times the average member of the House. Rep. Connolly was Chair of the Government Operations subcommittee of the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the 117th Congress, where he was serving his 7th term. He sponsored 51 bills, 11 of which passed the House, and 3 of which became law as standalone measures. In contrast, the average member of the House sponsored 21 bills, with only one law produced for every two House members. In addition to sponsoring the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, Rep. Connolly was the sponsor of the First Responder Fair RETIRE Act, which allowed disabled first responders to collect federal retirement benefits in a manner equivalent to non-disabled federal first responders.  Rep. Connolly was also the sponsor of two bills, the Enhanced Whistleblower Engagement Act, and the FedRAMP Authorization Act, that had their language substantially incorporated into the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023, which was signed into law in December 2022.

While he used his position as committee chair to advance numerous pieces of legislation in the 117th Congress, Rep. Connolly has been an effective lawmaker throughout his career, even as a rank-and-file Representative, and when in the minority party. For example, he was in our “Exceeds Expectations” grouping in five of the seven Congresses in which he served, beginning with his third term in Congress, and every term thereafter (including the 117th Congress).

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