Highlights from the new 115th Congress legislative effectiveness scores

The Center for Effective Lawmaking is pleased to announce the release of the Legislative Effectiveness Scores (LES) for the recently completed 115th Congress (2017-18).  As in all previous releases, the scores are based on the combination of fifteen metrics regarding the bills that members of Congress sponsor, how far they move through the lawmaking process, and how important their policy proposals are.  The scores are normalized to an average value of 1.0 in each 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 that share that legislator’s similar level of seniority, majority- or minority-party status, and chair position on a committee or subcommittee.  These are important considerations to control for.  For example, in the 115th House, minority-party lawmakers averaged an LES of 0.586, compared to 1.347 for majority-party members, while committee chairs averaged 2.480.  (In the more-egalitarian Senate, those averages were 0.804 in the minority party, 1.168 in the majority party, and 1.616 among committee chairs.)

We then label each lawmaker as “exceeding expectations” if they outperformed their benchmark by 50% or more, “below expectations” if they scored below 50% of their benchmark, and “meeting expectations” for those scoring close to 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.

Highly Effective Lawmakers in the 115th House of Representatives

The following table shows the top ten scorers in the 115th House of Representatives among majority-party Republicans.  Unsurprisingly, given the power of committee and subcommittee chairs, eight of the top ten held such important positions.  That said, the highest Legislative Effectiveness Score belongs to Rep. Don Young of Alaska.  Relative to the average of 17 bills introduced by House lawmakers, Young put forth 62 pieces of legislation, 19 of which received some action in committee and 14 of which reached the floor.  Of those, eight passed the House and five became law.  Young has long been known for advancing legislation on behalf of Alaska and of native Alaskans, and such considerations were featured again here among the laws he advanced.  For example, he penned legislation allowing the expansion of the Terror Lake Hydroelectric Project on Kodiak Island, as well as the Indian Employment, Training and Related Services Consolidation Act of 2017.  His unfinished business, advancing through the House, but not through the Senate, included legislation on the management of fisheries, and on how the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducts its cost-benefit analyses.

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Topics: Representation & Leadership
Craig Volden
Craig Volden is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a professor of public policy and politics, with appointments in the Frank Batten School of...