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Capito, McKinley Get High Bipartisanship Marks

Dawn breaks at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

CHARLESTON — Once again, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and 1st District Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., came in among the top 10 of members of Congress willing to work across party lines.

The nonpartisan Lugar Center — founded by former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar — and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University released their annual Bipartisan Index Rankings on Monday for the 116th Congress, covering 2019 and 2020.

The index looks at members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and ranks members based on their willingness to work with members of the opposite political party. Lugar Center Policy Director Dan Diller said that despite the perception that the country is more politically divided than ever, individual members of Congress still worked together on numerous issues.

“Although partisan combat between the parties and their leaderships reached new lows during the 116th Congress, individual members of Congress worked on legislation with their opposing party counterparts with surprising frequency,” Diller said. “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.”

On the House side, McKinley ranked 10th for bipartisanship during the 116th Congress. McKinley also ranked 10th in 2019 and 11th during the 115th Congress. McKinley’s first rank in the Lugar-McCourt index was 48th during the 113th Congress.

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

The Bipartisan Index Rankings look at the bills that Republican and Democratic lawmakers choose to be co-sponsors on and ranks lawmakers on how often they co-sponsor each other’s bills.

Just last week, McKinley announced he reintroduced a bill dealing with approval of generic drugs for Medicare beneficiaries with U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H. In April, McKinley introduced a bill with Reps. David Trone, D-Md., Judy Chu, D-Calif., and Mike Levin, D-Calif., to expand access to addiction recovery housing.

“Our office has a long and consistent track record of working with members from both parties to find solutions to combat the opioid epidemic, lower prescription drug costs, spur job creation and economic development, and other important issues,” McKinley said. “It’s an honor to be recognized for our efforts, and we look forward to continue working to deliver for the people of West Virginia.”

West Virginia’s other congressional representatives scored much lower on the index, with 2nd District Congressman Alex Mooney ranking 394th and 3rd District Congresswoman Carol Miller ranking 288th during her first full term in the House.

According to the new rankings for the U.S. Senate, Capito ranked 6th during the 116th Congress. She ranked 7th in the 2019 rankings, but ranked 3rd during the 115th Congress between 2017 and 2019. During Capito’s first full year in the Senate after her 2014 election to succeed the retiring Jay Rockefeller, Capito ranked 14th for bipartisanship.

“West Virginia is always first in all of my decision-making. I ran for the Senate in order to be a strong voice for the Mountain State and to advance legislation that benefits my constituents and the country as a whole. I always strive to honor that commitment,” Capito said in a statement Monday afternoon. “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 is one of several Republican U.S. Senators negotiating with President Joe Biden on an infrastructure package. Biden proposed an all-encompassing $2.3 trillion package aimed at traditional infrastructure projects and non-traditional items, such as funding for home healthcare, incentives for purchasing electric vehicles, and job training.

The Republican Roadmap developed by Capito and her colleagues would cost $568 billion and would focus exclusively on traditional infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, public transportation, rail, drinking water and wastewater, ports and waterways, airports, water storage, and broadband.

While there are differences between both plans, the White House has been receptive of Capito’s efforts, offering to meet with Capito this week. Capito was also instrumental in the passage of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021. The bill passed last Thursday in an 89-2 vote after coming out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where Capito is the ranking Republican member.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., also improved his Bipartisan Index Rank from 27th in 2019 to 26th for the 116th Congress, nearly returning to his 25th rank during the 115th Congress. However, Manchin’s score was much higher his first full year in the Senate in 2011, where he ranked 4th. At one point, Manchin ranked 2nd for bipartisanship during the 113th Congress between 2013 and 2015.

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