- The Washington Times - Monday, May 3, 2021

When it comes to bipartisanship, the democratic socialists in Congress don’t seem to want very much of it.

Sen. Bernard Sanders ranked by far the least bipartisan senator over the last two years, while Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the least bipartisan Democrat in the House, according to the latest rankings from the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s fellow members of “The Squad,” Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, were second- and third-least bipartisan Democrats. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, another Squad member and along with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez an adherent of democratic socialism, trailed closely, ranking 414th out of 437 House lawmakers scored by the Bipartisanship Index.

Republicans captured the top spots for bipartisanship in both the House and Senate, with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Sen. Susan M. Collins of Maine each ranking No. 1. For Ms. Collins, it’s her eighth straight year at the top. Mr. Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, set a record for highest score ever.

“Bipartisanship is the only remedy that will save and heal our nation,” said Mr. Fitzpatrick said as he celebrated the distinction. “Which of these paths one chooses determines whether they desire to be part of the problem or part of the solution.”

Not every Republican agrees.

While Mr. Sanders, an independent who sides with Democrats, scored worst in the Senate for the sixth year running, the bottom 10 slots in the House all went to Republicans. Rep. Gary Palmer of Alabama had the lowest rating.

His office didn’t respond to a message Monday.

Neither did the offices of Mr. Sanders and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

The Bipartisan Index looks at how often lawmakers sign on as a co-sponsor to bills written by someone from the opposite party, and how often they get support for their own bills from opponents.

It does not look at votes, which can be tilted based on which bills the party’s leaders decide to bring to the floor. Bill sponsorships are entirely dependent on the lawmakers themselves.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez made a splash earlier this year by saying she would refuse to work with Republicans she thought were complicit in fomenting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Judging by her rating, it appears that wasn’t a tough vow to keep.

Her vow came after Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who spearheaded the effort to object to states’ tallies in the Electoral College, suggested they might team up on legislation dealing with Wall Street.

Mr. Cruz also scored low on the Bipartisan Index, at 89th out of 99 senators ranked.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who served in the Senate over the last two years, ranked even worse, at 94th.

Strikingly, the study showed little correlation between anti-Trump sentiment and bipartisanship. Ms. Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski were the top two senators in the index, and both voted to convict and remove President Trump. But so did Sen. Ben Sasse, who ranked 93rd.

And in the House, Rep. John Katko was ranked No. 2. But Rep. Liz Cheney, perhaps the most vocal pro-impeachment Republican on Capitol Hill, ranked 421st out of 437 lawmakers, only slightly ahead of the Squad.

Michael McKenna, a former senior legislative aide in the Trump White House, said there may be a reason democratic socialists score poorly on working across the aisle.

“The philosophy tends to draw people who are absolutists,” said Mr. McKenna, who now writes a column for The Washington Times.

The democratic socialist brand will get more chances to prove itself in Congress this year with the addition of Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush.

The Times asked Dan Diller, policy director of the Lugar Center, about the clustering of democratic socialists at the bottom of the rankings.

“I would just say that we measure what we measure,” he replied in an email. “Even though our formula has a lot of nuance, overall if you co-sponsor bills introduced by the other party or introduce bills that attract co-sponsors from the other party your score will go up. If you don’t reach out to the other side very often and most of your bills are partisan, you will have a low score.”

He said there are very conservative and very progressive lawmakers who do score high on bipartisanship because they “take the time and effort to form partnerships in the interest of legislating.”

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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