The McCourt School of Public Policy and The Lugar Center have launched The Bipartisan Index, a ranking of all U.S. Senators and Representatives according to their sponsorship and co-sponsorship of bills.
The index measures how often a member of Congress introduces bills that succeed in attracting co-sponsors from members of the other party, and how often they co-sponsor a bill introduced from across the aisle.
“The Index was conceived on the principle that if Congress is to govern effectively, interaction between the parties must start at the beginning of the legislative process,” said former U.S. Senator from Indiana and president of The Lugar Center Richard Lugar. “It is far easier to make responsible compromises during the writing of legislation than at the eleventh hour, after a heated national debate on a contentious bill brought forward by a single party.”
The data confirm what the pundits and the politicians have been saying—Congress has experienced a disturbing culture shift toward more partisanship and less interaction between the parties. According to the Index, the last two Congresses have been the most partisan of the past 20 years.
Yet the index also upends some conventional wisdom: the Congress that impeached President Clinton was more bipartisan than any other in the index. And while the current House GOP majority is often vexed by no-compromise Tea Partiers, seven of the top 10 most bipartisan House members are Republicans.
The McCourt School and The Center will release new data through the Index each spring, and plan to release historical bipartisan data going back to 1993 this fall.
The McCourt School and Lugar Center hope that the Index will highlight members’ bipartisanship activity—or lack thereof—and encourage them to work together when writing or co-sponsoring legislation, and to raise the level of cooperation and civility in our public discourse.
Edward Montgomery, dean of the McCourt School said, “We hope that the Index will encourage many members to act in a more open-minded fashion when they write bills and when they make co-sponsorship decisions.”
Learn more about The Bipartisan Index.