REPORT: Center for Effective Lawmaking ranks AOC one of the least effective members of Congress

The findings of a study conducted every two years by the Center for Effective Lawmaking have just been published, ranking members of the 116th US Congress from most to least effective. 

Each time a new Congress is seated, the Center for Effective Lawmaking begins its work to study which lawmakers were the most effective during the term. This year, as the 117th Congress was sworn in and began its work, CEL used computer data collected from the Library of Congress and calculated the success of each Senator and House Representative as it related to how many pieces of legislation they introduced and how far each bill got in the lawmaking process during the previous Congress. The most effective members of Congress were the ones who had the highest rate of success getting their bills through the steps of the legislative process. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ranked among the least effective members of Congress, according to the study.

Ocasio-Cortez ranked only 230th out of 240 Democrats across the country. The congresswoman introduced 21 pieces of legislature to the floor and none progressed further. She also ranked last among all 19 New York Democrats. Alan Wiseman, a political scientist at Vanderbilt and co-director of CEL, said in an interview with the New York Post, “She introduced a lot of bills, but she was not successful at having them receive any sort of action in committee or beyond committee and if they can’t get through committee they cannot pass the House.” He went on to explain that over the years, a pattern that has emerged is that politicians who tend to engage with the media more are often less effective in Congress.

Craig Volden, another co-director of the center, told USA Today “’We’ve found initial patterns that those more effective tend to be what we would call the workhorses rather than the show horses, and because of their policy focus, they’re less likely to be called upon by the media.” As for Democrats, the top most effective House member of Congress was New York Representative Nita Lowey. Of Lowey’s 30 bills sponsored, 14 passed the House vote and 7 became law. Republican Michael McCaul of Texas was the top most effective lawmaker on the Republican side of the House, with 10 of his 24 bills passing the House and 2 becoming law. Lowest-ranked House Representatives were Tennessee Rep. Jim Cooper (D) and Rep. Kay Grander (R) from Texas.

In the Senate, Florida Senator Marco Rubio topped the list of effective Republicans, put forward 107 bills, 10 of which passed the Senate and 6 became law. Michigan Senator Gary Peters was the highest-ranked Democrat with 86 bills introduced, 14 passing the Senate and 10 becoming law. The lowest-ranked Senators on either side of the aisle were Alabama’s Richard Shelby (R) and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow (D). The Center for Effective Lawmaking pointed out that typically, Committee Chairs tend to be more effective members of Congress, and that trend continued this year as most of the highest-ranked members of Congress are also Committee Chairs. The next study will take place in 2023, when the 117th Congress ends and the 118th begins on January 3.





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