Rep. John Conyers Jr. was the most effective Democrat in the House during the 112th Congress, according to a new study by two academics that tries to calculate who, despite the gridlock in Washington, has been the best at pushing legislation through Congress.
Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas was the top-ranking Republican in the study, being released Tuesday, by Alan Wiseman, an associate professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University, and Craig Volden, professor of public policy and politics at the University of Virginia.
Their full findings are at www.thelawmakers.org
. They judged effectiveness by looking at a lawmaker’s “proven ability to advance a member’s agenda items through the legislative process and into law.”
The scorecard looked at how many bills a member introduced or sponsored, how significant they were and how far each made it in the legislative process. The website adjusts a lawmaker’s grade based on seniority, committee leadership positions and whether or not their party holds the majority.
The model does have its shortcomings and a low effectiveness score doesn’t necessarily mean a lawmaker can’t get things done. The website does not look at things like working to help others’ bills pass, blocking proposals or serving in a leadership position where you wouldn’t be introducing legislation, the website side. For example, House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, has a low effectiveness score despite being a key gatekeeper of what bills come to the House floor.