Mar 28, 2019 - 2:30pm

U.S. Chamber encouraging bipartisanship through changes to legislative scorecard


Vice President, Congressional & Public Affairs

Our ‘How They Voted’ scorecard has been a critical component of the U.S. Chamber’s work for more than 40 years and I can’t tell you how often people mention its importance to me.

This is the tool we at the Chamber use to rank members of Congress on their key business votes and it’s a resource deeply valued by virtually anyone and everyone doing business with or on Capitol Hill. It has become one of the main points of reference to determine a lawmaker’s record on business.

We know the scorecard is extremely important to our members because it’s based on the issues that matter the most to them. And I know from a myriad of conversations I have had with Members of Congress and their staff through the years that it is also a point of pride for many of them because it highlights their legislative accomplishments on business and tax related issues. We hear lawmakers talk about their scores all the time - on the floor, in hearing rooms and on the campaign trail.

The scorecard is a helpful snapshot not only of lawmakers’ priorities but also of the wider political landscape on Capitol Hill and given the current level of divisiveness and partisan paralysis we are seeing there, we think it’s time to make some changes.

With that in mind, the Chamber has revamped our scorecard and for the first time, beginning with the current Congress, we are more fully rewarding Members for efforts that focus on bipartisanship. The revisions we are making are intended to continue to help advance pro-business policies while also encouraging members to reach the compromises that are necessary for effective governing.

The Chamber will continue to create an individual report card for every U.S. Senator and Congressional Representative that compares them to the rest of Congress as well as their party and their delegation. But here’s how scores will be tabulated going forward.

  • The Legislative Vote Score, which in the past has accounted for 100% of a lawmaker’s score, will now count for 80%.
  • Another 10% - the Legislative Leadership Score – will reflect whether a lawmaker co-sponsors Chamber-endorsed bills and declines to sponsor bills we oppose – whether or not they ever come up for a vote.
  • The final 10%, which we are calling our Bipartisan Engagement Score, is based on the amount of bills - other than those formally opposed by the Chamber - that are co-sponsored by the member and were introduced by a lawmaker from the opposite party.

 We do think many lawmakers are likely to see variations in theirs scores under this new system and we think that’s important. The scorecard is based on the priorities of the business community nationwide and it’s clear that for our members, that increasingly involves more than legislative votes. They want to encourage leadership and bipartisanship.

We see several other benefits to this new approach too:

  1. Members will receive credit for supporting pro-business legislation even if that legislation doesn’t come up for a vote, which is something rank-and-file members often cannot control.
  2. It encourages members and the Chamber to work together to identify legislation that can be endorsed early on.
  3. The report card provides a more complete view of where a member stands in relation to their party and delegation.

As always, we will clearly communicate with Capitol Hill to make our endorsement or opposition to bills known well in advance. You can find our current priorities on our website. Thanks to Ken Johnson and Ron Eidshaug for helping re-invent the scorecard. We have already briefed the Hill on the new system and held House and Senate staff briefings to explain the change.

This new system is designed to paint a more authentic, well-rounded portrait of lawmakers. We also hope it encourages them to reach across the aisle and embrace bipartisanship whenever possible in recognition of the fact that there is so much real and important work to be done.

About the Author

About the Author

ashleywilson; ashleymiller
Vice President, Congressional & Public Affairs

Ashley Wilson is a legislative strategist with deep knowledge of both politics and process, sharpened over a 20-year career in Washington, D.C. She earned her stripes on Capitol Hill, where she is well-known by members of Congress on both sides of the aisle for her ability to build bridges, navigate choppy political waters, and get the job done.