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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, October 05, 2017 4:50 pm

Donnelly, Coats near bottom of legislative rankings

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Some conservatives have been touting a study that found Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., to be the least effective Democratic senator during the 2015-16 Congress.

The recently created Center for Effective Lawmaking, a joint project between the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, has scored members of Congress according to “proven ability to advance a member’s agenda items through the legislative process and into law.”

The center ranked Donnelly last among the 44 Democratic senators in the 114th Congress.

“Hoosiers deserve a Senator who works for them and gets results. The Senate is broken, and Joe Donnelly is a big part of the problem," Rep. Luke Messer, R-6th, said in a statement about the ratings. 

Messer, who seeks to unseat Donnelly's in next year's Indiana Senate election, ranked as the 129th most legislatively effective member in the 250-member Republican House majority in 2015-16. The Center for Effective Lawmaking compared lawmakers to colleagues in their own parties. 

Out of all 100 senators, Donnelly's legislative effectiveness score of 0.136 ranked 98th. Scores were figured according to factors such as whether a bill was acted on by a congressional committee, approved by either the House or the Senate and became law.

Who had lower scores than Donnelly? His fellow Indiana senator at the time, Republican Dan Coats, ranked 99th with a score of 0.074, and former Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., was 100th with a score of 0.063. Sessions today is the nation's attorney general, and Coats is the director of national intelligence.

Former Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, ranked 242nd in legislative effectiveness among House Republicans, with a score of 0.069. Former Rep. Todd Young, R-9th, who this year succeeded Coats in the Senate, scored 1.591 and ranked 74th in the House GOP.

None of the bills introduced in 2015-16 by Young, Stutzman, Coats, Messer and Donnelly became laws, according to the Center for Effective Lawmaking, which did not include amendments in its scoring formula. The Journal Gazette reported in 2016 that Coats, Donnelly and Young had combined to produce a dozen proposals that became provisions of bills signed into law in 2015.

“Throughout his time in the Senate, Joe Donnelly has worked hard and reached across the aisle to deliver results for Hoosiers, as proven by the 27 pieces of his own legislation that have been signed into law, five in this year alone," Peter Hanscom, Donnelly's campaign manager, said in a statement. "Anyone who tries to claim that Joe is ineffective should talk to Indiana’s service members and military families about the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act or with families affected by opioid abuse about the provisions he offered that were included in last year’s Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act."