The least likely Republican to support Democrat-backed bills in Congress is U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), according to rankings released Tuesday by a think tank in the nation’s capital.
The Bipartisan Index, an annual scorecard produced by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, is based on data from 2017. It determined that Brooks, as was the case last year, has worked with his colleagues across the aisle less than any other representative.
The report gives Brooks a score of -1.81375 on a scale using zero as a 20-year statistical baseline. That ranked him No. 438 in a scorecard that also measured non-voting delegates to Congress.
Brooks rejected the characterization.
“I have a hard time believing that,” he said.
Brooks noted that the report does not take voting records into account but rather determines how frequently lawmakers co-sponsor legislation with at least one member of the other party and how frequently members of the other party sign on as sponsors to their bills.
That is an “absurd standard,” Brooks argued.
Brooks was not the least bipartisan member in the entire Congress, however. Including the upper chamber, the lawmaker with the least bipartisan record as judged in the report was Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats. He scored -2.11294.
The most bipartisan senator was Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose score was 3.14712. That is even higher than the most bipartisan representative, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.). The report gives him a score of 2.08590.
Former Sen. Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican who founded and serves as president of the Lugar Center, lamented that bipartisanship has been on the decline. As a whole, Congress is below the historical average for the fifth straight term.
“But in recent years we have seen some overall improvement,” Lugar said in a statement. “Members of Congress, from the most progressive to the most conservative can score well on the Index if they dedicate themselves to seeking bipartisan support for their own legislation and give fair consideration to a variety of legislative initiatives.”
Michael Bailey, interim dean of Georgetown’s McCourt School, argued that the Bipartisan Index is an important tool for measuring how often representatives and senators reach across party lines.
“We are witnessing a tumultuous era in American politics, from the decay of political norms to the rise of ‘fake news,’” he said in a statement. “For the average consumer of political news, it can be difficult to sort out what’s happening in Congress.”
Brooks said there are better ways to measure bipartisanship than bill sponsorship. For instance, he said, if the report had focused on how often Republicans side with Democrats on “rules” votes — determining how legislation will be debated — “I’d probably be No. 1.”
Brooks said he votes based on which policies are best for the country.
“It makes no difference to me who the sponsor of the legislation is,” he said.
The report found that every member of the Alabama delegation was less bipartisan than the historical baseline. Then-Sen. Luther Strange (R-Mountain Brook) came in No. 94 out of 98 senators — the majority and minority leaders were not included in the rankings — scoring -1.50520.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) was right behind him, in 96th place, with an index score of -1.59304.
The most bipartisan member of the delegation was Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), who scored 178 out of 438 at -.14708.
The rest of the delegation was as follows:
- Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), 182nd, at -.18055.
- Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), 385th, at -1.07891.
- Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks), 395th, at -1.16810.
- Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), 403rd, at -1.21512.
- Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), 433rd, at -1.65304.