Dave Mistich Published

W.Va. Congressional Delegation Gets Varied Rankings In ‘Bipartisan Index,’ But Voting Records Tell A Different Story

Republicans, led by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., unveiled a $568 billion infrastructure proposal meant to serve as a starting point for bipartisan negotiations.

West Virginia’s mostly Republican congressional delegation has varied rankings when it comes to their level of bipartisanship, according to an index evaluating the most recent class of federal lawmakers.

The Bipartisan Index from The Lugar Center at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy measures how often a member of Congress introduces bills that attract co-sponsors from the other party and how often they co-sponsor a bill introduced from across the aisle.

The latest rankings, released Monday, evaluates the 116th Congress and its members in the U.S House of Representatives and Senate, which included Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller, as well as Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito.

“Although partisan combat between the parties and their leaderships reached a crescendo during the 116th Congress, individual members of Congress worked on legislation with their opposing party counterparts with surprising frequency,” said Lugar Center Policy Director Dan Diller. “The Bipartisan Index scores show that despite the embittered partisan climate, members still sought out bipartisan partnerships in the run-up to the 2020 election — usually below the radar of the national news cycle.”

McKinley, who represents West Virginia’s 1st District, ranked 10th out of all 435 members of the U.S. House, according to the rankings. In a Monday news release, he celebrated his ranking.

“The people of the 1st District elected me to represent them in Washington, not a party,” McKinley said. “They want someone who can work across the aisle to achieve results, and that is how we have approached the job.”

Mooney, of the 2nd District, ranked 394th, according to the index. Miller, of the 3rd District, ranked 288th.

Spokespersons for Mooney and Miller did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Capito, a Republican, ranked sixth among all 100 lawmakers in the upper chamber. Manchin — a Democrat who is often considered one of the most moderate members of the Senate — ranked 26th, according to the Lugar Center’s index.

“I’m proud to have good relationships with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and I will continue to work in a bipartisan way to find real and meaningful solutions that better the lives of all West Virginians,” Capito said.

A spokesperson for Manchin did not immediately offer comment on his ranking.

Scores for the Bipartisan Index are based on “two broad, equally weighted categories,” according to the Lugar Center’s website.

“A bipartisan sponsorship is defined as the introduction of a bill that attracts cosponsors from the opposing party. Similarly, a bipartisan co-sponsorship is the act of a congressional member adding his or her name in support of a bill introduced by a member of the opposing party,” the website explains in its methodology of the index.

However, the Lugar Center’s index does not consider actual votes on bills, which might give constituents a better idea of how strongly lawmakers stick with members of their own party.

Represent — a web app maintained by the non-profit news outlet ProPublica — tracks voting records and how often a lawmaker breaks with a majority of their respective party.

During the 116th Congress, Capito voted against a majority of Senate Republicans 10 times (1.5%), putting her 97th among all senators. Manchin voted against a majority of Senate Democrats 174 times (24.8%), putting him second out of all members of the upper chamber to break from his own party in 2019 and 2020.

McKinley voted against a majority of House Republicans 74 times (7.8%) during the previous class of lawmakers. Mooney voted against a majority of his party 83 times (8.8%) and Miller voted against a majority of her caucus 34 times (3.6%) in the same two-year period.

Those voting records rank McKinley 84th, Mooney 74th and Miller 207th among all House members in how often they broke with their party during the 116th Congress.

Just last week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that West Virginia will lose a congressional seat in 2022. All three Republican members of the House have said they plan to run for reelection in what will become two districts, but will reevaluate things once new maps are drawn.

Should McKinley, Mooney and Miller all decide to run, two of them would face off in a primary election in one of the two newly formed districts.