Sen. Merkley Says He’s Committed To Bipartisanship; His Record Says Otherwise


Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is trying to portray himself to Oregonians as someone committed to bipartisanship, to working hand-in-hand with Republicans to advance the country’s interests.

“I believe that if you simply oppose the Administration because you’re of a different party, no one benefits, “ Merkley said in an interview with KGW-TV that ran Wednesday night. “I think of Gandhi’s expression when he said, ‘If all you believe in is an eye for an eye, the whole world goes blind.”

Not so fast, Senator. You can’t walk away from your record so easily with platitudes. The fact is your record shows you are one of the Senate’s MOST partisan members.

According to the Bipartisan Index of 98 senators released by The Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, Merkley had the fourth most partisan track record in the entire Senate in the most recent analysis covering the First Session of the 114th Congress in 2015.

That was even worse than Merkley did in the 113th Congress, when he was ranked the 7th most partisan senator.

The Index takes into account how well members of opposite parties and ideologies work together. The Bipartisan Index measures the frequency with which a Member co-sponsors a bill introduced by the opposite party and the frequency with which a Member’s own bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party.

“We sought to develop an objective measure of how well members of opposite parties work with one another…,” former Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind) said.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ranks as the most partisan on the list, followed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) and then Merkley.

Bills introduced by highly partisan senators without co-sponsors from the other party “are being written not to maximize their chances of passage, but to serve as legislative talking points.,” Lugar said.




Sen. Jeff Merkley: leading the way in partisanship

So much for working well across the aisle for the common good.

Jeff Merkley, D-OR, is one of the most partisan U.S. Senators, according to a just compiled Bipartisan Index that measures members of Congress. Of 100 Senators, Merkley ranked 93rd in bipartisanship.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, a true blue partisan.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, a true blue partisan.

A low score indicates that a legislator is viewing his or her duties through a partisan lens, rather than prioritizing problem solving and being open to working with the other party when possible, entertaining a wide range of ideas, and prioritizing governance over posturing.

The Lugar Center, a non-profit organization focusing on global policy issues, teamed up with the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University to develop a Bipartisan Index to measure members of Congress. The ranking of all senators, released for the first time on Tuesday, rates lawmakers by how their legislation does in attracting co-sponsors from the other party as well as how often they sponsor legislation proposed by members across the aisle.

“…sponsorship and co-sponsorship behavior is especially revealing of partisan tendencies,” said former Senator Richard G. Lugar, President of The Lugar Center. “Members’ voting decisions are often contextual and can be influenced by parliamentary circumstances. Sponsorships and co-sponsorships, in contrast, exist as very carefully considered declarations of where a legislator stands on an issue.”

Berkeley’s abysmal ranking in the Bipartisan Index suggests that he’s more interested in making political points than being an effective legislator. Partisan bills certainly have their place, but as Lugar said in his Introduction to the Bipartisan Index, “…at the beginning of the legislative process, when effective governance would argue for broadening a new bill’s appeal, too often the opposite is happening.  Bills are being written not to maximize their chances of passage, but to serve as legislative talking points.  Taking a position is not the same thing as governing.”