The American Conservative Union announced Thursday its 43rd annual conservative ratings guide for members of Congress and Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, was among the perfect scores, to the surprise of few or none.
ACU scored 25 key votes on conservative issues in the House and 25 in the Senate, though the group did not announce beforehand which votes would be counted.
A slight majority of Republicans in both chambers earned either the ACU "Defenders of Liberty" designation for a perfect 100 percent score or the "ACU Conservative" moniker for a score of at least 80 percent.
"Only 16 members of the House earned a perfect ACU conservative rating of 100%, the lowest since 2006, when only six received that score. The number of members who reached the minimum conservative threshold of 80% declined from 160 in 2012 to 122 in 2013, all Republicans," Larry Hart, ACU director of government relations, said in the report.
Among the 100 percent scoring House Republicans were Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Matt Salmon of Arizona and Steve Stockman of Texas. The lowest-scoring Republican in the House was Rep. Michael Grimm of New York, with an ACU score of 27 percent.
Mr. Cruz was among three senators to score 100 percent in their chamber, the others being Republican Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Mike Lee of Utah. Another 21 senators — among them John Cornyn of Texas, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and tea-party favorite Rand Paul, both of Kentucky, and Marco Rubio of Florida — scored over 80 percent. Those numbers also reflected a slight dip since 2012, according to Mr. Hart.
"In the Senate, the proportion of Republicans who scored 80 percent or above remained relatively the same, 24 out of 45 compared with 26 out of 47 in 2012. However, the number of Senators with a perfect conservative rating of 100 percent declined from eight to three," he said.
The lowest-scoring Senate Republican was Susan Collins of Maine, with a 28 percent rating, the same score as the two most-conservative Democrats — Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Both those men are seeking re-election in 2014 in states where Barack Obama suffered lopsided defeats in the 2012 presidential election.
The group selected votes that "serve as a clear litmus test separating those representatives who defend liberty and liberal members who have turned their backs on our founding principles – constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, free markets, a strong national defense and traditional American values," the group said in its statement.
Among the key bills scored in the House were votes on the budget, late-term abortion, several pork-filled spending proposals, Guantanamo Bay, union power and a carbon tax. In the Senate, the bills included parental notification on abortion, EPA regulations, judicial nominations, disaster relief, gun rights and a conservative budget.
According to the ACU survey, the Senate had the more liberal Democratic caucus, by several measurements.
Mr. Pryor's and Mr. Manchin's peak scores of 28 percent were less than half the 58 percent score of the highest-scoring House Democrat, Jim Matheson of Utah. Just one House Democrat (Rep. Bruce Braley of Iowa) earned a perfectly liberal 0 percent score, while seven members of the Democratic caucus in the much smaller upper chamber did the same. And overall, House Democrats averaged a 14 percent rating while their Senate counterparts scored just 7 percent average.
"Under this administration, the role of government continues to grow and infringe on our freedoms. It is important we have strong principled members in Congress to take this agenda head-on,” said ACU Chairman Al Cardenas.
The ACU's announcement is at conservative.org and the entire report is available online also.
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