Our country is facing three unprecedented challenges. From a global pandemic, to an economic crisis that has put 40 million Americans out of work, to long overdue efforts to address inequality and injustice in our society, our country stands at a crossroads. We can either accept this new reality, or we can roll up our sleeves and get to work building consensus and solving the great challenges facing our nation.
Many are looking to our nation’s government and elected leaders for answers during this time. But for there to be meaningful and long-lasting solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems, we need pragmatic political leaders who have the courage to solve huge business and economic growth issues through common sense solutions built from a durable political center, not ideological corners.
At the U.S. Chamber, we recognize this need to highlight members of Congress who show leadership on good legislation and who reach across the aisle, so we made a pledge in January of 2019 to heighten our focus on and reward bipartisan leadership and constructive governing. We are now making good on that promise with the release of our revised “How They Voted” scorecard and a new awards program that honors members of Congress who lead their caucuses and are committed to bipartisanship.
Since 1965, the U.S. Chamber has rated senators and members of Congress solely on how consistently they voted with the U.S. Chamber’s position on legislation identified as important to the business community. As the next step in that effort, beginning in 2019 with the 116th Congress, we began tracking how often a member cosponsored legislation introduced by a member of the opposite party to measure bipartisanship. We also began to track the number of Chamber-endorsed bills a member cosponsors and Chamber-opposed bills the member declines to cosponsor to measure leadership. These new components now account for 20% (10% each) of a member’s Annual Score, with the legislative component now accounting for 80% of their Annual Score.
To recognize members that demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward, we have created two new awards to celebrate the top scorers in each new scoring category: the Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award and Jefferson-Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship. The Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award recognizes members of Congress who demonstrate the leadership critical to advancing policies that support America’s free enterprise system. The Jefferson – Hamilton Award for Bipartisanship recognizes members of Congress who demonstrate a willingness to work across the aisle and find common ground, even with those with whom they disagree.
We will be announcing the inaugural award recipients and the leaders in each category on June 9th during the First Annual Governing with Distinction Ceremony. We urge others to celebrate these leaders for finding common ground on common sense solutions.
These new awards will not be a replacement to the U.S. Chamber’s signature Spirit of Enterprise Award but will instead be an additional tool to help the public identify leaders in Congress with the courage to pursue common ground and bold, bipartisan solutions to America’s greatest challenges.
The U.S. Chamber will also release our annual “How They Voted” Scorecard and award the 2019 Spirit of Enterprise Award, recognizing members of Congress who consistently support pro-growth, pro-business policies and show bipartisanship and leadership when legislating.
Working together, Congress achieved major victories last year which this year’s scorecard will highlight. The biggest of which was the passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The passage of the USMCA sent a powerful message that America remains open for business, which is good for our economy, our businesses, our workers, and the stability of the world. Other victories for Congress last year included the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, and Flood Insurance and Terrorism Risk Insurance programs, both of which will be included in this year’s scorecard.
For our country to choose the path that will lead to strength and unity, we must look to leaders who are already exemplifying these qualities in their actions. The U.S. Chamber’s new Bipartisanship and Leadership Awards as well as our Spirit of Enterprise Award seek to recognize and raise up elected leaders who embody these values. These will be the leaders who help bring our economy back to strength and put people back to work — and, by their example, inspire more to join them.
About the authors
Senior Vice President, Government Affairs
Jack Howard is senior vice president of the Government Affairs Division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The division includes a team of 15 lobbyists in Washington, D.C., as well as seven regional offices charged with providing membership services and grassroots lobbying.