Center for Effective Lawmaking

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…

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Re-Thinking How We Vote

In today’s political arena, it is tempting to vote for candidates with the best slogan. But perhaps, we could build a better Congress if we voted for leaders who delivered results. Every two years, ineffective members of Congress are re-elected to their positions – sometimes effortlessly. And while this year voter turnout surpassed previous highs [i], simply just turning out to vote does not exhaust the extent of our civic duties. Robust civic engagement demands that we do our due diligence before we step in the booth. This requires voting…

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2019 Research Grant Recipients

This fall, the Center for Effective Lawmaking, announced its first round of grant recipients. The CEL’s funding and support for research grants is consistent with its commitment to advancing the generation, communication, and use of new knowledge about the effectiveness of individual lawmakers and legislative institutions in Congress. A defining feature of the Center is its emphasis that research and understanding yield new opportunities to improve lawmaking effectiveness. The 2019 research grant recipients: Hanna K. Brant – University of Missouri Andrew Clarke – Lafayette College Jesse M. Crosson – University…

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Your Role in Building a Better Congress

http://amp.timeinc.net/time/4514717/congressional-reform Research commissioned by the Congressional Institute shows that less than 1 in 5 voters believes their voice is being heard. So, how can individuals citizens begin to express their views in Congress? The best method of constituent expression stems from the power of the vote.  Voter registration and participation in all elections is the best way to influence your representative bodies. According to a September 2017, Gallup News poll the congressional approval rating is at an abysmal 16 percent. In order to remedy this problem I recommend electing (or re-electing) effective legislators…

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D or R > X or Y: Party trumps sex in the contemporary Congress

When Republican Senator Susan Collins took to the Senate floor last week to announce whether she would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, Democrats and Republicans alike held their breath. Collins’s vote would be pivotal; it would determine whether one of the most controversial Supreme Court nominees of all time would receive a lifetime appointment.It wasn’t the first time Collins found herself in the spotlight. One of the few remaining moderates in an increasingly polarized Senate, she crossed the aisle enough times to give Democrats hope and…

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John McCain, Effective Lawmaker

A self-described Maverick, John McCain became one of America’s most well known, liked and respected politicians during his almost four decades in Congress. It’s difficult to find anyone who doesn’t know that there was something unique about the Senator from Arizona. Senator McCain was also one of the most effective lawmakers of the Contemporary Congressional Era. He scored in our highly effective category for both of his terms as a US House Representative, setting the stage for a long and successful senatorial career. He then went on to score in…

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Who’s using Legislative Effectiveness Scores?

The Center for Effective Lawmaking seeks to make our legislative effectiveness scores widely available to members of the academic community, voters, lawmakers, and the public at large. Since the Center launched in September 2017, the following organizations have referenced legislative effectiveness scores and the Center. Good Governance Groups Leg Branch, The Lugar Center, Duke's Polis Center and the AEI have all used legislative effectiveness scores to promote their good governance missions. Congressional Offices   Senator Orrin Hatch and Congressman Eliot Engel’s communication staffers sent out press releases to constituents highlighting…

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Helpful Tools for Engaged Voters

Many observers and scholars of politics would argue that as a whole, American citizens lack some basic knowledge that is often needed to manage a democracy. In June of 2016, Forbes found that only 34% of Americans can name the three branches of our federal government (executive, judicial, and legislative). This is a major issue at election time, as a recent University of Pennsylvania study reveals that most Americans do not know which party controls the House and the Senate. There seems to be a fundamental knowledge gap when it comes to politics…

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No Labels

In an era where intensely partisan politics is the new normal and party rhetoric takes precedent over policy proposals, a coalition of lawmakers formed a caucus challenging the status quo. This group of lawmakers organized themselves in 2017 into the Problem Solvers Caucus, as an offshoot of the political organization No Labels’ effort to create effective bipartisan cooperation among members of Congress. Since No Labels first started its initiative in 2013, the group has advanced a variety of good government solutions, including the No Budget No Pay Act, which was…

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A Partisan Congress? Not so Fast.

In September 2017, Gallup News found that the public’s congressional approval rating was at an abysmal 16 percent. There are a number of factors that contribute to this rating, but the prevalence of partisanship and the rise of more ideologically extreme members are largely credited for this national sentiment. Yet, contrary to the beliefs of many Americans, bipartisanship remains an integral part of congressional activity. In fact, nearly two thirds of all passed laws in the 113th congress (2013-2014) were supported by at least one member of the minority party. While this finding might…

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