The Lugar Center’s ratings for the first year of the 117th Congress are in, and they’re pretty bad. And Maryland’s members of Congress rank among the worst.U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) talks with visitors to the J. Millard Tawes Clam Bake and Crab Feast. (Maryland Matters/Danielle E. Gaines)
Every year, the center publishes an index rating all members of Congress on their bipartisanship — or lack thereof. It’s assembled — in collaboration with the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University — by looking at bills a member of Congress introduces and how many co-sponsors they get from across the aisle. It also considers the number of bills from sponsors of the opposing party that a member co-sponsors.
The results from the first year of the 117th Congress are in, and they’re pretty bad. And the ratings for some in Maryland’s congressional delegation are among the worst.
“Many observers speculated how well members of Congress would work together in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol,” said Lugar Center Policy Director Dan Diller. “Regrettably, the new 2021 Bipartisan Index scores offer strong quantitative evidence that bipartisanship at the individual member level plummeted last year.”
2021 was the first year of the Biden administration, and the first time Democrats have controlled the White House, House and Senate since 2010. That may have contributed to the fact that in the House, Republicans finished in the bottom 30 in the center’s bipartisanship index. Senate Republicans finished in the bottom 11 for bipartisanship in that chamber.
Despite some high-profile bipartisan successes in 2021, including the $1.9 trillion stimulus package and the infrastructure bill, scores in the House fell to their lowest levels in the nine-year history of the index. Only 106 House members scored above the historical average, while 328 scored below it. Previously, the lowest number of House members exceeding the historical average was 137 in 2015. Although House Democrats scored below the historical average as a group, they ranked much higher than their Republican colleagues.
On the Senate side, scores also dropped sharply, almost entirely because of Republicans.
Bringing up the rear for Maryland: U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris, the state’s lone Republican in Congress. He has the 10th worst record of bipartisanship in the House, according to the Lugar Center index, finishing at No. 426 on the list.
Rep. Mary Miller of Illinois is at the very bottom of the list, followed by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Rep. Russ Fulcher of Idaho. All are Republicans closely associated with the Freedom Caucus and with spinning conspiracies about election fraud hatched by President Trump.
Former state Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D), who is aiming to oust Harris in the 1st District general election, used the newly released Lugar Center report to criticize the congressman.
“Harris’ refusal to work with anyone except the far-right fringe of the GOP has had serious consequences for #MD01,” Mizeur tweeted. “We can’t afford another Harris term.”
The lowest-ranking Democrat from Maryland on the bipartisan index is Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, who came in at No. 403. Hoyer in fact is the second lowest-rated House Democrat on the list, behind only Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, a first-term member who is associated with “The Squad” — the group of progressive women of color.
Hoyer’s ranking is interesting. He’s considered a leading moderate in the Democratic caucus, who often looks after the interests of the most endangered House Democrats. But as House majority leader, he’s also a top partisan strategist within the caucus and doesn’t often sign on to Republican-sponsored legislation.
Among the rest of the House Democrats in the Maryland delegation, Rep. David J. Trone had the best bipartisan score, finishing 23rd. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger was 71st, Rep. Anthony G. Brown was 235th, Rep. John P. Sarbanes was 327th, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin was 337th, and Rep. Kweisi Mfume was 374th.
Coincidentally or not, the two House members with the highest bipartisanship score in 2021 were the co-chairs of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) was No. 1 and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) was No. 2. Fitzpatrick, who represents a suburban Philadelphia district that routinely votes for Democratic presidential candidates, has topped the list for the past three years and scores far higher than anyone else.
“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,” said Maria Cancian, dean of the McCourt School of Public Policy.
On the Senate side, Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) was 27th in the bipartisan index. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) was No. 52.
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) was the most bipartisan senator in 2021, according to the index, followed by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Bringing up the rear were Alabama Sens. Richard Shelby (R) and Tommy Tuberville (R), followed by nine other Republicans. The lowest scoring Democrat — though he’s not technically a Democrat but an independent who caucuses with the Democrats — was Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Two more Republicans were near the bottom end of the list, followed by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat.