POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah lawmakers rank in top 10 ‘most effective’ GOP members of Congress

Mar 22, 2023, 3:17 PM

Members of the 117th Congress were ranked by the Center for Effective Lawmaking, and a Utah lawmake...

The Center for Effective Lawmaking has ranked each member of the 117th Congress, based on the success and substance of bills they introduced. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY —  Members of the 117th Congress were ranked by the Center for Effective Lawmaking, and two Utah lawmakers placed in the top 10.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is ranked as the eighth most effective Republican senator, and Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, is the ninth most effective representative.

“I wasn’t surprised,” James Curry, associate professor of political science at the University of Utah, told KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic when asked how the Utah lawmakers had ranked. 

Who ranked the Utah lawmakers, and what were the metrics?

The Center for Effective Lawmaking is a partnership between the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University. According to its website, since 2017 it has created and shared information about the effectiveness of both individual lawmakers and legislative institutions.

Specifically, the Center uses a combination of 15 metrics to come up with its scoring. They measure the bills sponsored by each member of Congress, how far those bills progress in the legislative process and how substantial the proposals are.

“(Rep) John Curtis and (Sen) Mike Lee are both highly effective members of Congress … [by] coming up with policy proposals, building support for them and moving them along the legislative process,” Curry told KSL NewsRadio. 

The term for the 117th Congress extended from January 23, 2021, to January 23, 2023, In other words, the final year of Donald Trump’s presidency and the first two years of President Biden’s. That timing, especially during the Biden presidency, is notable for Sen. Lee, Curry said.

(Sen) Mike Lee is really good at this. I don’t think it’s something that he gets a ton of credit for,” he said. “But he’s very good at building cross-party coalitions … ways to work with folks like (retired) Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vermont or Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, or folks who are very much on the left to try to advance priorities that they can both agree on.”

Additionally, along with individual rankings based on the success of their legislation, each Utah lawmaker received a benchmark score. The center describes this score as “the effectiveness of lawmakers who share that legislator’s majority- or minority-party status, level of seniority and chair position on a committee or subcommittee.”

Lee and Curtis’ scores

Rep. Curtis’ overall score was 1.613. His highest-ranked issue was public lands, followed by health and government operations. Thirty of his bills were considered “substantive,” while four of his bills passed out of the house and three became law.

Sen. Lee scored 1.249 overall, and his highest-ranked issue was labor and employment. That was followed by foreign trade and public lands. Sen. Lee had 127 bills that the center ranked as “substantive.” Five of Sen. Lee’s bills passed out of the Senate, and two of them became law.

And what about Romney?

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the state’s junior senator, isn’t a junior lawmaker by any means. He might be more recognizable as a Utah Senator, than Sen. Lee.  But his overall score was significantly lower (0.38).

“This is where this effectiveness score falls short,” Curry said. “It doesn’t recognize the work that lawmakers do behind the scenes to help forge agreements to help put together broad-based bills, because they’re not things that are just introduced as pieces of legislation and move forward in a traditional fashion.”

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Utah lawmakers rank in top 10 ‘most effective’ GOP members of Congress